June 22, 2010

Out of Balance

Buona sera. Today, I'm up to my old tricks of taking my experiences and observations and trying to form a general principle that I hope you can use. In this case, I have contrasting ideas.

Just a moment...yeeeerrrshhh. Ah, that's better. I needed a good, long stretch.

"I thought you had enough of a stretch in Sing Sing."

Cool it, Nicky! I was undercover. Don't you have trolling to do? Yeah, you thought I didn't know abou
t that. We'll talk later.

OK, before I was so rudely interrupted...

One of the most important watchwords in my life is "balance". (One of my favorite Moody Blues albums is "A
Question of Balance".) More often than not, going to an extreme can get you into trouble. Buddha was right in this area when he said, "Seek the middle way". (Don't give me that look. You know it's true, never mind the source.) If you focus on peripherals too much, you miss out on what life has to offer.
  • People will get so locked into their political views that "the other side" never has a valid point to take into consideration.
  • You can turn your churchgoing activities into a religion. I heard someone say that they were at the church not only every time it was open, but they had a key.
  • Extreme Minimalism. Some people have almost no possessions, think you should not have them either, turn it into a kind of spiritual "value", make it a political movement. Back off, Jack. Reducing possessions and/or becoming a Minimalist is the most individualistic philosophy that I can think of, don't ruin it, capice?
  • Don't get so wrapped up in hate that you become "stupidified", like I discussed in this post.
  • I've seen people in the "green movement" let environmentalism rule every aspect of their lives, and that becomes an extreme religion of its own.
  • Sports fans, musical artist fans, whatever else fans will live and breathe their pet adulation to the point where their friends wonder about their mental health.
That's enough, you get the idea. But I want to qualify church-related stuff for a moment. Specifically, beliefs themselves. Do not be rigid in non-essentials. Major doctrines of the faith, yes, earnestly contend for those. Otherwise, back off. We're all still learning. I have some less-than-orthodox views myself in some of those areas, and I do not bludgeon people into my way of believing on those.

The other thing I want to qualify here is that when someone is a Christian, it's a way of life. While we are to be ever-mindful of Christ and that he is guiding our lives, we have no call to be obnoxious about it (like standing at preaching at the office and getting fired; that does not bring glory to God, you see). Live and be guided, but as my father said, "Don't be so Heavenly-minded that you're no earthly good". Beware of a reverse "stupidification" like the kind that happens to those who live in hate.

Now for the contrast. A bit of a suggestion, something to consider.

In my own life, I have found that I get a "fascination". Something gets my attention, and I want to "get into it", maybe learn a great deal about it. I've learned to "go with it". This way, I can learn, have fun or whatever. If it's just a passing fancy, OK, time to move on. At any rate, I had fun and probably obtained some knowledge.

When I allow myself to get "out of balance" in this way, I have to keep in mind a few things:

  • Think very carefully before spending money; the higher the cost, the more hesitation
  • Related to the first point, not to load up on clutter that could wind up packed away in a box, awaiting the thrill to return
  • Not to let other things go, especially the regular and important things in life; don't become obsessed
  • Never become obstreperous with whatever the latest fascination is
  • Realize that even though I am allowing myself to get out of balance on this new quest, not to get too carried away
  • Be willing to "come back", or move on, when it's over; sometimes, the "high" is gone but the new ingredient is now a part of my life
  • Don't do something you know is harmful I Cor. 6.12
  • Keep the guidelines, this could take a while (like my studies of Buddhism, which lasted for several years, just like with Soviet history)
These guidelines of mine may mean nothing to you. That's fine. Hey, this whole article is simply my way of offering some ideas that I hope someone can use.

June 21, 2010

Heaven-Sent Software

Buon giorno. Yours truly is a bit wired today. I've made it clear in the past that I'm a proponent of freeware and Open Source software. (No, I'm not ready to tackle Linux without a tutor.) Although both are technically free, freeware is often the product of one developer being generous and giving away his or her work (sometimes as a way to attract attention to other products that are for sale), and Open Source is available to anyone with the necessary skills to develop; a group effort, if you will. Click on the above link for more information about Open Source.

Much of my favorite software is Open Source. I like the guiding principles behind it, and that it seems to be a labor of love. Firefox, Open Office (replacements for Excel, Word, PowerPoint and others), 7-Zip file compression and others.

I found a couple that are new to me. Sort of. Couple, that is. You'll see.

For someone that wants to do Bible study on their computer, with multiple versions to compare, have commentaries, dictionaries and other books available, BPBible has some good things going for it. (No, it is not affiliated with BP Petroleum. Duh.) One thing that attracted me to it was the portable version for flash drives and so forth.

There are problems with this, however. Most of the Bibles that can be downloaded are very outdated or (in my opinion) too modernized. But that is up to the user. I took the King James Version (1769 version; most people think they are reading the 1611 version, but they are not) and the English Standard Version. Others did not appeal to me. Commentaries and other helps struck me as "iffy", but they had to take what they could get without having to charge for their product and violate the Open Source standards.

One thing that really bothered me was their confusing Website. It links to the SWORD project (Eph. 6.17, presumably) and the Cross Wire Bible Society. They have many modules of Bible study software. Which to choose? They kind of throw it at you, in my opinion. A second part of this was that there are no instructions; you're on your own, Ollie.

The built-in uninstaller is lacking. Good thing I used Revo Uninstaller (free version) to remove all the stuff that was left behind.

On the other hand, I am very impressed by the very similar freeware called e-Sword. It has some of the same difficulties and limitations in Bible versions as BPBible, but the creator (a writer of software by trade) has made arrangements with some companies to sell some modules at reasonable prices. Now I can get the very accurate and highly-respected New American Standard Bible (perhaps) the Holman Christian Standard Bible that I am willing to pay for.

Edit: I am no longer using e-Sword. Although I have nothing against it and it's a fine product, I prefer "theWord" free Bible software above all else. And it has a portable version. Click here for my discussion of it.

Better "helps" are available, too.

Instructions and training videos are available to download and/or view on the site. Even with these, though, it takes some fiddling about and clicking to see what happens. When I made my copy look like the one in the demonstration video, things were making more sense.

Also, it's interesting to me... the Bible is ancient, and here I am, studying it with modern technology.

While I'm at it, I have some other useful things, and some fun stuff. First, the useful:
Here's the fun stuff:
  • The Brick Testament, a very large illustrated Bible — done with Legos!
  • LOLcat Bible — Your favorites from LOLspeak, with the annoying cutesy "LOLspeak", plus Ceiling Cat and Basement Cat in their struggle. Dig this: John 3.16 (hover over the link and let RefTagger do its work for you), and then... "So liek teh Ceiling Kitteh lieks teh ppl lots and he sez 'Oh hai I givez u me only kitteh and ifs u beleeves him u wont evr diez no moar, kthxbai!'" You decide if it's blasphemy or harmless fun, but I just had to show you. I think they mean no harm, though.
And I thought the Stock Car Racing Bible was a bit odd... Hey, it's on sale now!

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