What is the meaning of life? How do we cure all these diseases? Is lasting peace possible? Who am I supposed to marry?
All these questions plus countless more have lingered and ruminated in the human mind throughout the centuries. As a fan of science fiction and humor, I am reminded of the classic quip from Douglas Adam’s in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Asked about the meaning of life the answer was “”The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” 42?! Really? Yes, the ultimate answer is reduced to a number. Nothing else matters except for 42. Obviously, Adam’s meant that reply for comedic purposes. But what if there really was an answer that easy or apparent. An answer that would solve all the world’s issues.
Who is the Answer to Everything?
Well, exactly there is an answer to everything. Jesus. Yes. I said it! Jesus is the answer to everything. Wait, wait, wait. You might be thinking “Jesus is important and can solve BIG important problems, but not everything.” Or you might be more cynical: “Jesus only belongs in the realm of religion. He has nothing to do with science, politics, or just the practical issues of daily living!” Still more you might outright deny the significance of Jesus at all. “Jesus is not even a historical figure! He was a figure made up by the early Christians and now embellished like Santa Claus.”
Whether you have doubts, large or small, about this claim I simply ask you to listen to my rational. I promise you it makes sense and is quite intriguing. To avoid getting too technical and complex theologically, I am only going to focus on a few passages in the Bible to demonstrate my argument. Here is my basic argument:
Jesus is God
God is Perfect Love
Therefore, Jesus is Perfect Love
Jesus is God
The Bible contains many passages that prove the divinity of Jesus. For a more complete and thorough outline of Scriptural evidence pointing to Jesus as God please refer to the link in the Related Resources at the end of the article.
I will focus on John 1:1 and the “I AM” sayings in this article. According to the fourth evangelist, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” A common title referred to Jesus as is the Word (or in Greek John used Logos). In my article Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. Part 3- Creation Week in Genesis and John, I detail out more precisely how the gospel writer starts his book with a reference to the creation of the universe in Genesis 1.
Along with the connection between Genesis 1 and Jesus as always pre-existent, John provides us with seven sayings of Jesus that hark back to the original name of God in the Old Testament–“I AM”. In Exodus 3:13 Moses asked God his Name. The next phrase God replies, “I am who I am.* Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” John desires his audience to make the connection between Jesus and this original name of God in the following passages:
When Jesus calls himself (I AM _____) it is clear that he is invoking that Jewish appellation for God.
God is Love
The first letter of St. John provides the clear and simple formula for God is love. According to 1 John 4:8, “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” Great! This provides the definition of God as being Love. But isn’t love arbitrary? Do it not mean something different based on the individual preferences? Don’t various cultures define love differently? Well, that may be the case. But I am going to define love as referred to in the Bible.
The most complete and understandable definition of love comes from St. Paul. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 the Apostle of the Gentiles wrote, ”
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,d5 it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,e6 it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.f 8* Love never fails.”
Bringing it All Together
So far we have shown some biblical evidence for the divinity of Jesus and defined the God is love. Now you might still be wondering: how does this show Jesus is the answer to everything? Let us do a bit of an exercise. I want you to think about the worst interaction you every had in a relationship (i.e. a argument with spouse, conflict at work, disciplining a child, etc). If that interactive ended poorly, what caused it to end badly? One of the following vices probably prevented you and the other person from resolving the conflict: impatience, anger, ego, greed, lust, envy, or simple laziness.
Now think about that situation again. Instead of those vices insert a virtue into that conflict (i.e. patience for impatience). Love is not rude, it is not prideful, it is patience and kind. Tackling a problem with love will end the conflict. Guaranteed. Why don’t we follow this simple blueprint? It is because humanity suffers from sin. We are incomplete and only Perfect Love can fix us. Jesus is God. God is Perfect Love. Therefore, Jesus is Perfect Love.
Practicing patience and understanding helps to resolve conflicts. Limiting our egos leads to more collaboration. Human collaboration breeds humanity innovation and sharing of information. Innovation and freely sharing of information can be used to tackle more serious problems plaguing humanity such as hunger, war, and diseases.
Call to Action
How exactly can I have Jesus help me in my problems? All we have to do is to sincerely ask for help. Ask God for help. Ask your fellow neighbor for help. Be humble. Be thankful. The Litany of Humility is a powerful prayer to help me reignite my faith. Start by praying once daily. Next bring this prayer to Church and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus solves everything. It truly is that simple. The challenging part is beginning and continuing to rely on God for help!
According to Cardinal John Henry Newman, “It is very difficult to give resentment towards persons whom one has never seen.” I have seen and experienced this phenomenon before. In those moments you are driving and someone suddenly cuts you off. An immediate reaction is anger or annoyance. Another instance of frequent prejudgment occurs when we first meet a new person. Sometimes our instincts are correct. Sometimes our initial bias is wrong.
Let us try a short experiment. Listen to the following quote. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg states, “I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at”. What thoughts popped into your head when you heard her name? Perhaps this name meant nothing and that is certainly fine. Actually, that is good because that means no bias exists now. If you know of Ruth Bader Ginsberg then it is likely depending on your past experiences, worldview, and or morality whether you view her positively or negatively.
Whether you agree with her judicial decisions or not, I hope we can all agree that her statement is true. Unconscious bias is tough to overcome. While bias acts as a predictive element for various situations in our life, we all have suffered saying something dumb or making an assumption that makes us look foolish. Even today I had to battle my preconceived notions and even slipped up in assuming something at work that later proved me wrong. I don’t want you to fall into the same foibles as me so here are five ways to overcome bias and make your relationships smoother.
According to Thomas Merton, “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” Pride clouds our perception. It limits our purview. The days where I struggle most with prejudgment are the days that I struggle the most with the sin of pride. Listening to the news, regardless of your political affiliation (IT HAPPENS ON BOTH SIDES) the bias is so obvious it almost jumps off the television.
Humility widens our ability to emphasize with others. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When that happens, our past prejudices are forced to change. Our skewed perception meets reality. St. Vincent de Paul plainly wrote, “Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.” Prejudice is a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or truth. If you want to begin to overcome bias—start with being humble!
Never Assume, Ever!
I assume you know that old adage about assuming—right?! The one that says: “You know what happens when you assume?” Or should I clarify? In case you never heard that saying refer to the meme below
Too far? Perhaps. Basically, we should never, ever assume because you could make an a** out of you and me! In all seriousness, assuming occurs when we use past patterns or behaviors of events or people to predict something that will likely happen now/in the future. While assuming does lead to being right sometimes, I have learned that the benefits of being right don’t outweigh that awful feeling learning you are actually wrong (JUST THAT 1 TIME). Assuming more often than not perpetuates and deepens prior bias. Be safe. Never assume!
Education, Reeducation, Continuing Education
“Prejudice is the child of ignorance,” purported English essayist William Hazlitt. Learning more about the item or person that you are prejudiced towards will naturally lead to a broadening of your understanding—so long as you approach education with an open heart and mind.
As a parent of special needs children, I hold a special place for children (and adults) with disabilities. While our society is definitely making gains in mental health and disability awareness, many prejudices still persist—especially regarding autism spectrum. Some of the remarks people have made when hearing my sons have autism include: “You know vaccines cause autism!” or “Are you looking into a getting your son cured? These comments are biased and uneducated.
Initially, I let this bother me. Ironically, penchant for special needs children is a bias as well. I need to separate my personal view on the matter sometimes and realize that some people may not be aware of autism. Without that awareness and education it definitely makes why others may have a prejudiced view on an important issue dear to you. As George Whitman put it, “All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.”
Put Priority on Individuals and not the Collective
Along with seeking humility, avoiding presumption, and continuing education, another way to overcome bias is to view people as persons. I see this all the time at work—many times I fell (and still fall) into this habit. My toughest interactions with clients, customers, acquaintances, and even my children happens when generalize the group instead of understanding the individual’s needs. Failure to place priority on the individual leads to generalizing.
Generalizing is not necessarily bad in and of itself. Reducing individuals to the collective gets problematic when it is done hastily and without thinking. Treat the person before you (whether that be your spouse, customer, neighbor, etc) with the utmost dignity. That simple attitude will go a long way in broadening your viewpoint and limiting bias.
Talk it out
The fifth and final way to overcome bias is arguably both the simplest and most overlooked—talking. Twentieth century psychology Rollo May wrote, “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” When all other methods fail just talk. Communicate. Learn from others. You don’t have to adopt others’ belief if it is contrary to your own, but to overcome bias talking helps you better understanding their viewpoint.
Prejudice exists because we live in a fallen world. We are blessed to be living in the unique age of social media. No other time in human history has information traveled as quickly nor connected as many people as now. This is both a good and bad thing. There are more opportunities for learning about others, but also there are a ubiquity of opportunities for prejudices to persist and worsen. Prejudice can be overcome. We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of humility, avoid presumptions, be open to learning daily, treat everyone with dignity, and be willing to communicate. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream that one day my children will not be judged by their disability or other outward appearance, but by the content of their character! Do you believe as well?
According to acclaimed entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, “No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.” As a writer, this advice should be fairly straightforward. In theory this notion should be easy to implement. Practically, life tells us otherwise. At times work and family obligations make it quite difficult to create content.
“I don’t have time” or “I am too tired from work or parenting” are excuses. Valid excuses. But excuses nonetheless. American found Benjamin Franklin professed, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Ouch! His words certainly sound jarring. Sometimes we need to hear that severe truth to ignite the passion within us.
Coming off a long weekend, I felt the need for a second weekend to recover from my Saturday and Sunday. Again, I am coming up with an excuse. I struggled to develop a topic for content this week. Suddenly, I realized— how about I write about what to do when you struggle with developing content! This post will be centered on three strategies that you can use immediately to jumpstart your ability to create content.
I have learned that value of developing innovative strategies to write. I started The Simple Catholic blog in 2015. Four years’ worth of content! It gets tough to write about things especially when you’ve exhausted a lot of great ideas in the past.
One creative way I learned to develop content is to immediately jot down an idea when it pops into my head. Throughout the day I think about this idea. If it is a fruitful notion, I am able to develop a cohesive and understandable outline to then construct the post when I have time later. Driving, biking, showering, or in between calls at my job are great times for me to ponder and develop these nuggets of information.
Develop Time Savers
Some days I barely have 10 minutes to write. Honestly, these days frustrate me! As a storyteller, I long to have the ability to put down my thoughts, frustrations, joys, happenings, and concerns. Writing is therapeutic. It provides healing when I am distressed. Writing is cathartic—cleansing me of worry, doubt, and irritations. Because writing provides me that important function in my life, I make sure I take at least a little time to write daily.
Today was one of those rushed and packed days. During my job, my phone rang off the hook. I only had 30 seconds between speaking with customers. Along with being, creative, I had to seek ways to make the best use of my time. Below are a list of the best time management practices I have discovered:
Utilize outlines to craft the structure of an article
Use the voice-to-text function on phone/apps
Set a weekly post goal—meet this goal consistently
Develop flexibility to work in smaller chunks of time—this is especially key for writers who are also parents!
Make time for reflection/mediation
Exercise frequently—you will be quite surprised how a short jog or session at the gym will invigorate your mind
Set time limits for social media usage
Follow Your Mission Statement
A third strategy to boost your content creation is to write about your passion. What excites you? Which subject could you ad lib for 30 minutes? Why did you originally begin your blog? What motivates your writing?
These questions allow me to get back to the heart of my mission. My Catholic faith is more important to me than anything in this life. Possessing a Master’s degree in Theology and teaching experience provided me the initial foundation for my blog. Along with evangelizing and discovering the joy of the Gospel, I enjoy writing about my other passions as well: exercise, writing, fantasy, and comic books. I find joy in each of these subjects.
Gary Vaynerchuk say that “Passion is contagious.” Zest also leads to a more thriving life! Helping others learn to write and blog drive me to share my best practices. When we share knowledge and experience honestly and without any strings attached we all win. I would love to hear your own struggles and triumphs in the content creating process. Share your best practices in the comments below!