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Christmas, Chinese cookies, & a Crazed Coffee dude…REALLY???

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~ Yesterday morning after I left Christmas morning Mass I couldn’t help but notice how calm the city looked. It was Noon time and everything was closed saved for a couple gas stations here and there; all my favorite little Indie-coffee shops were closed, and even though I was a bit sad about that, I suddenly came across one of the Mermaid coffee shops and my spirit brightened, “Hell yea! Coffee shop is open!” I said to myself

Was this bad? Had I become an awful consumeristic Western individual by going into a retail business on Christmas day to get a coffee and take a few minutes to read?

To be honest, I don’t tend to get hung up on little particulars like that, although as I sat there reading my book on Eastern Philosophy and how people in the East think differently than people in the West, I couldn’t help but wonder how much has changed here in North America over the last couple hundred years.

And then, later in the day yesterday my loved ones said they wanted Chinese food for Christmas dinner, and since I’d been cooking a lot over the past week it sounded like a nice break from the kitchen. With my coffee in hand, I swooped over to the local Chinese restaurant and stood patiently in line. The kitchen at the restaurant has an open view so that the patrons can watch the cooks; two women in the back stood before a massive table with meat stacked up high. They were quietly attacking the meat with huge chopping knives and then tossing them over to the next table where another cook would prepare the meat for the deep fryer.

A lot has changed in North America over the last couple hundred years. For instance, when the Chinese came to North America hundreds of years ago, they were largely persecuted and treated harshly by Americans. The mainly Christian Americans resented the unbelieving Chinese and their strange Eastern ways, and so the Americans made life very difficult for the Chinese. Racism, persecution, bigotry, all existed in varying forms against these people who had come from the Far East in search for greater freedom, peace, and a better way of life.

Now, on Christmas day when all the Christians stop working to honor our God, we all cram the line at the local Chinese restaurant taking advantage of these non-Christian believing Chinese Americans. To quote Cat Stevens, “It’s a wild world”.

I’m happy the coffee shop was open. It wasn’t one that I hang out at very much, yet within five minutes of sitting down I had met a new friend and we chit chatted about the day’s events.

The Chinese Restaurant is one I frequent on occasion (though I prefer Indian food as a general rule) and the woman at the counter has gotten to know me over the years; there were a lot of people ahead of me, but when she saw me she politely and quietly put together my order and let me bypass the line.

The world has changed a lot over the past two hundred years. Yet as I sat there at Mass on Christmas morning I couldn’t help but think of my 21 year old cousin who died last week. As much as the world has changed, we still face the reality of death. You and I are going to die. And while some people might think that is too depressing of a thought, I often wonder if it has to be. After all, for those of us who believe in something more, something deeper, something beyond the façade of this life, perhaps death isn’t so bad.

I’m reminded of the verse,

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.…

When death comes suddenly there is a time to grieve, yet at some point we must rise from our grief and go on living. It seems to me that we shouldn’t fear death, we shouldn’t become so consumed with dying that it prevents us from living.

I’ve been studying ancient Indian and Chinese philosophy over the last week, and they too place a lot of emphasis on not being afraid of death. They focus their thoughts on such things that bring more peace to one’s life and it is a refreshing thought; why focus so much on the bad? Too much of this world is focused on the bad, because to put it quite simply; there is a lot of bad in the world.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.…

The Christmas holiday has been a time for me to contemplate, to think about life undistracted from work. But now as I look at the clock this beautiful sunny Friday morning, I realize it’s time for me to go to work, good timing, I’m down to the last drop of coffee,

Kenneth


A Smart Ass holiday…REALLY???

a year ends

Oh my goodness, golly, gee whiz,

I just looked at the calendar, and I got a bit diz

My nose is getting longer, just like my hair,

And I fear it’s time to purchase, some brand new underwear

It’s Christmas Eve, Two Thousand and Fourteen,

Another year draws to an end, it flew by like a dream

So I think I’ll write in rhyme, I hope I’m not obscene

I hope I don’t cuss, and say “sh*t” around the pre-teens

So if you have a moment, just lend me your ear,

Let The Culture Monk recap things, it shouldn’t take too long dear

Though you might grab your coffee, or tea if that’s what you prefer,

Cuz when I start rambling, the time becomes a blur,

This year began, like every other year gone by,

The President of France had an affair, my oh my oh my

President Hollande, age 60 years old,

Got caught with his pants down, that’s what we were told

And not far from France, in the country of Ukraine,

Old Russia showed up, and caused Kiev a lot of pain

Putin set up camp, back in the old Soviet stomping ground

He wanted his vacation home back, and his fist he did pound

The Oscars kind of sucked, and Ellen’s selfie pic was a flop,

I can’t believe Brad Pitt and Streep, posed for such slop

But the Oscar’s were a sideshow, from the mysterious plane

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, and the NEWS went insane

The country of India, experienced a major bombshell

Narendra Modi won a historical election, his opponent he did quell

Sadly, Modi’s win, was a secondary story for all

As we watched tearfully as Mosul, Iraq did fall

The Islamic State, led by a crazed dictator and his men,

Savagely marched throughout Iraq and then,

Unleashed their terror, upon the lives of the innocent

The Islamic State is evil, and it is evil they meant

As the summer wore on, and the heat it was stewing

In Ferguson, Missouri, a massive story was brewing

An 18 year old was shot, by the bullets of a gun

And over the rest of our year, a dark spot formed over the sun

The dark spot didn’t let up, many of us cried

And then we heard more sad news, Robin Williams had died

It seemed like the dark, had overcome the light

Because evil had spread through the world, it was an awful sight

ISIS and Al Qaeda, the evil Boku Harum

Ebola, and North Korea, and crazy gun toting policemon

The world seems to have gone crazy, the world seems to have gone mad

Twenty Fourteen was filled with so much that made us sad

But a momentary respite, came for those who like nudes,

The biggest celebrity nude picture leak came, and many said it was crude,

Jennifer Lawrence and so many other actresses and singers,

Had their nude pic’s leaked, and they showed more than their fingers

By the time October came, the story had been lost in the past,

Oscar Pistorius was sentenced, sentenced at last

Five years convicted, for murdering his lovely lass

Many people believe the judge gave him, much too light of a pass

And all through the year, The Culture Monk was cool,

I drank my coffee with panache, cuz I’m not a tool

I met with some readers, and quite a few who write blogs,

The year went by so fast, some parts of it are a fog

And cuz I’m a cool cat, and I don’t eat fat,

I figured it was time, for me to get off my mat,

So off to coffee to chat, with people named Nat,

I traveled around, like a wandering bat,

I drank so much coffee, I visited 200 café’s and yelled “Presto”

Now my pee smells like coffee beans, and I only poop Espresso

By the 200th café, I was getting mentally stuck,

I might have slipped, and said the word……. “Duck”?

Hey I’ve never cussed, and I’ve never lied,

I’ve never drank coffee, and I’ve never died,

And if you believe that, I got something to sell,

Wanna buy a real estate in North Korea or in hell?

But I do remember meeting TK, in the Windy City we did dine,

I remember meeting Ann Koplow, and dude she is fine

I remember sipping coffee with Dewey Decimal’s Butler,

I remember how much Jen likes Britney Spears,

She like hers so much, she’ll marry Britney I fear

I remember drinking beer, with a chick from the Twin City

I remember hearing British wit, by a dude filled with curiosity

 I talked with a cool chick, with really cool glasses

And I read lots of good words for the day, by a guy who likes lasses

I read lots of great stories, and thoughts by Me – Who am I

And I learned that math is not fun, math makes me want to cry

I learned red heads can write, a poem here and there

And that blogs should be fun, with big noses and red hair

Some blogs are about God, and that is good as golds

Some blogs are beautiful, by people with beautiful souls

 Some bloggers are encouraging, they put a smile on my face

Some blogs are simple, precious and filled with grace

Some blogs are honest, and often clothed in joy,

Some blogs change names, and that is okay,

And perhaps I will mention other blogs, on another day

But for now let me finish, with a couple final thoughts,

Before I finish opening my presents, the ones that I bought,

Cuz I want to wish, to each of you and all,

A, MerryChristmasHolidayHanukahFestivusfortheRestofUsHappyKwanzaSeasonsGreetingsYultideBlessingsWinterSolsticeAtheistSalutations!!!!

And now it’s time for me to say,

I’m ready for another cup of coffee, at least I don’t have to pay

 

Kenneth

 

P.S. You should tell your friends to read my blog, maybe they will hate it and get mad at you for recommending it to them, and you can have a nice little bonding experience over my shitty little writings.

 

P.S. Again: You could also post a link for my blog on your Facebook, Twitter, WordPress Site, or email it to everybody you know and you don’t know. After all, it is the season of giving…….and what better way to give unto others than give them a blog written by a smart ass. Cuz Jesus road into Jerusalem on an ass, so a smart ass blogger is kind of a nice way to celebrate the holiday….right?


When Christians are arrogant and atheists are not…REALLY???

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by Kenneth Justice

~ Sitting at a table with an atheist and Christian in recent months, the conversation came to an impasse and the Christian friend of mine said to the atheist, “You are simply stubborn because you will not consider the possibility that you are wrong”. However, as I sat there listening to the two of them, I couldn’t help but notice that the Christian was being just as stubborn as the atheist.

Religion, atheism, and morality are among the most discussed topics when I sit down at coffee. While fellow coffee goers are always talking about the latest buzz when it comes to politics and social events, ultimately much of the conversation ends up going back to ethics, morality, and the meaning of life.

One of the difficulties when talking about these issues is that it is often difficult to navigate the line between people’s differing views on religion, metaphysics, and atheism. More often than not people come to the table in these discussions with their minds already made up. Western philosophy (the worldviews that you and I come from) trains people to believe that they are entirely right about what they believe unless someone can prove them wrong, and it makes for quite a few difficulties in dialogue.

At coffee recently a good friend of mine said to me that everything he believes is emphatically correct unless someone proves him wrong. While on the face of it that might make sense, in reality it is a nonsensical position with which to build your worldview. Such an attitude creates a never-ending series of arguments, because instead of being open to dialogue, it renders the person to be close-minded and stubborn.

Imagine a child that comes to every discussion thinking they are ‘right’ about everything; the parent would have to argue with the child on even the most simple of subjects. And as you and I know, children most definitely do not know everything; they need to be taught.

The philosopher Rene Descartes said “Some years ago I was struck by how many false things I had believed, and by how doubtful was the structure of beliefs that I had based on them. I realized that if I wanted to establish anything in the sciences that was stable and likely to last, I needed – just once in my life – to demolish everything completely and start again from the foundations”

So for Descartes, this newly found knowledge led him to a new attitude; that nothing should be accepted as true unless it had been proven to be true.

What a joy it must have been to talk about life with Descartes, a person who didn’t start every conversation with an air of all-knowingness, but was open to hearing alternative positions and ideas. A person who was quick to listen and consider, rather than disagree and argue.

As the Proverb says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame”.

Obviously, you and I have certain preconceived notions, it is simply a fact that cannot be denied. Yet the question that lies before is also quite simple; will we choose to come from the position that we are entirely correct about what we believe, or will we choose to strip away our preconceived beliefs and open ourselves up to more constructive dialogue?

If you are a Christian and want atheists to be open to the idea that they are wrong about a universe that lacks an all-powerful and all-knowing god, then you yourself must also be open to the idea that god does not exist. Is that too difficult a pill to swallow?

Francis Schaeffer, one of the most influential protestant thinkers of the 20th century was very adamant about his position on this subject; “how can Christians expect atheists to be open to being wrong, but they themselves will not be open to being wrong” he asked.

It is the height of arrogance for a Christian to come to a dialogue with atheists and expect of them something they themselves will not do; consider the possibility of being wrong about their preconceived notions.

But Kenneth, I KNOW that God exists, why would I even for a moment consider the possibility that God does not exist?” you might be thinking. Yet isn’t that the very thing that is going on in the mind of the atheist; “I KNOW that God does not exist, why would I even for a moment consider the possibility that God exists?”

It is a simple issue of justice, is it not? To be fair and just, to truly love your neighbor as yourself, shouldn’t you expect of your neighbor nothing more than you yourself are willing to do?

Stripping away our preconceived notions is difficult to do, and being the imperfect creatures we are, we will never be truly objective; we will always be polluted by elements of our humanity that are beyond our control. But if we are committed to maturation, if we are committed to having positive dialogue with people on the other side of the aisle, then we must begin letting go of our one dimensional mode of thinking. We must let go of our close-minded attitude, we must allow a spirit of humility to flow over our being, and open our minds to new ways of thinking.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth


The GLBT community is a bit confused…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

 

~ A number of weeks ago a man came into the coffee house wearing a dress, high heels, and the makeup to compliment his ensemble. I live in a fairly progressive city and normally a man dressed that way wouldn’t cause a stir, but at that moment there was a hardcore conservative sitting at my table along with a hardcore liberal and they instantly went at it,

I’m so sick of people trying to force their sh*t on me in public! Why can’t that dude just do that at home?” said the conservative

Dude, you’re SO judgmental. That person was born that way and you are being a hater!” said the liberal

I consider myself fairly laid back and the truth of the matter is I could care less how people dress in public (well, that is not entirely true; I’m not a big fan of the whole early 2000’s G-string sticking out of the jean’s look; but that has more to do with my personal preference than any moral judgment on my part).

Putting aside my personal fashion preferences, I do however believe the GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual & Transgendered) movement has a major flaw in their thinking; cross-dressing is not biological.

In their quest to be totally accepting and inclusive of all life styles and behavioral choices, the GLBT community has been proselytizing the idea that cross-dressing is merely a biological behavior that men (and women) have no control over; as Lady Gaga would say, “they were born that way”.

According to The Gender Centre: Services for the Transgendered and Gender Diverse Community, cross-dressing is rooted in, “a genetic predisposition and a prenatal hormonal basis for a person’s gender identity”. However, the problem with the idea that our clothing is reflective of our biology; is that clothing is entirely cultural and NOT biological.

If we’re going to be honest, the pro-nudist people are closer to the truth when it comes to the subject of clothing (or lack thereof) since the most base biological aspects of humanity would be that of ‘no clothing’; babies in the womb wear no clothes since putting fabrics upon our skin is entirely a cultural phenomenon, and depending on what society you are born into will determine what kind of clothes (if any) you will most likely be wearing.

Even many religions are more honest about clothing than the GLBT community. Speaking for the Christian community (since I am a Christian), we are taught that clothing was never part of the original intentions behind humanity; just like animals we were born with everything we needed and clothing wasn’t something we needed to survive. Clothing was nothing more than an add-on in the course of human history, and as humans migrated to more harsh climates (or as the climate changed) clothing became necessary to our survival.

But wait a minute Kenneth, isn’t clothing rooted in our gender identity?” you might be asking. That is of course another element of the GLBT argument, and unfortunately there isn’t much evidence for such a position. While it is undeniable that many cultures have emerged from human history with all sorts of clothing and grooming traditions; things such as lipstick, shaving, waxing, dresses, pants, etc. have precious little to do with biology and everything to do with personal preferences and cultural mores that have evolved over time.

—-) Why do most women shave their arm pits and only a small percentage of men; cultural tradition not biology

Thousands of years ago it was highly unlikely for any women to shave their arm pits.

—-) Why are women more likely to wear hair extensions or wigs than men; cultural tradition not biology.

A couple hundred years ago in both the United States and Great Britain, men wearing wigs was the height of cultural sophistication.

—–) Why are women more likely to wear dresses than men; cultural tradition not biology

Clothing styles are constantly evolving. In some parts of the world still today, both men and women wear robes, and while sometimes those robes may have certain characteristics that differentiate between a ‘man’s robe’ and a ‘woman’s robe’, sometimes they do not.

We have to be careful not to rush into labels. Labels can be a good thing, they help us to group ideas and concepts together in an organized fashion. But labels can also be a bad thing, and labeling cross-dressing as a product of biology creates a confused manner of thinking; it creates a flaw in our logic and can lead us down a path of nonsensicalness. If we veer too far off the path of logical thinking we will one day find ourselves walking alongside Alice in Wonderland; in a world where up means down, and left means right.

Let us all seek to be accepting and loving toward everyone. Yet in our quest to follow the Golden Rule, we don’t have to think illogically…..do we?

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,

Kenneth


“He betrayed me!!!”….REALLY???

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Kenneth, the thing I don’t get is that he won’t even admit he betrayed me. He believes he’s innocent and hasn’t done anything wrong” she said

~ Yesterday a business associate of mine met me for coffee. In her late 30’s, a couple years ago she and a lifelong friend of hers created a fairly successful thrift store from scratch. They sell higher end, well maintained designer label clothes at a fraction of what it would cost to buy them new. Everything had been going really well the past couple years and their profits had practically doubled from the first year they started….until a few months ago.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her, sometime last summer her partner rented a building on the other side of town and opened up a brand new competing thrift store; he never told her. It was two months ago that he walked into the store, like any other day, and announced that he wanted to dissolve the partnership because he decided the time was right to have his own store that he owned all by himself.

Kenneth, I felt totally betrayed. I mean, if he felt that strongly about opening up his own shop I would have understood. But instead, he spent much of the last year stocking up an inventory for his opening; time that I thought he was working on buying inventory for our store. He was basically doing double duty by working behind my back. And now the kicker is that since his store’s grand opening two months ago, my sales have suddenly been cut in half; because he was half of our business, he was responsible for going out and stocking our shelves…..now I’ve been forced to work behind the counter and in the back room, I’m completely out of energy” she lamented.

Sadly, her story is not the first story I’ve ever heard about betrayal. I share in her sadness, it sucks when people betray you. It makes it even worse when the person who betrays you won’t even admit what they’ve done. In most cases, people refuse to admit their wrongdoing. They somehow justify in their mind that what they’ve done was within the bounds of integrity and ethics.

I’ve been betrayed by people a number of times in my life and only on one occasion did someone come back to me and apologize. It’s a rare occasion when someone admits they wronged you.

In politics we see this all the time; men and women who make promises only to break them, and then refuse to admit they lied or didn’t follow through on their promises.

The current political climate in many parts of the world is at an all-time low. Last week David Cameron of the United Kingdom suggested that Europe is at the brink of a collapse once again, he believes this next economic collapse might be even worse than what we saw in 2008. And while everyday men and women might be an easy target to blame for politicians, the reality is that the majority of us simply have very little power when it comes to the economic decisions of our governments. When an economy fails the responsibility lies at the feet of its political leaders.

Here in the United States, it’s been six years since the housing bubble burst and millions of Americans were tossed into financial ruin. As we have so many times in the history of our country, we’ve battled our way back up; but not because of any damn politicians. And maybe I’m complaining a bit too much; but it really bothers me that not one single person has ever apologized for their part in the housing bubble crisis…..NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON.

Of course, we know many of the players involved in the banking deregulation and the other bad decisions that led to the crisis; but none of those people have ever come forward and admitted their role in the crisis.

Is it too much to ask of people to apologize? Is it too much to ask of people who have betrayed us to take responsibility for their actions?

Clearly I’m living in a bubble myself; a bubble in which I believe people should admit to their wrongdoing and take responsibility for their actions….oh well, I think I’ll just have another cup of coffee.

Kenneth


Back on the dope….REALLY???

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by Kenneth Justice

~ Late last night I received a phone call from a dear friend of mine, “She’s back on drugs again” he said.

His girlfriend of five years has been in-and-out of rehab clinics for quite a while, “I really thought after this last time she was getting better” he lamented, “last week though I noticed that she took out a lot of money from our bank account, and when I asked her about it she broke down”

Having worked in counseling at a rehab clinic this isn’t a new story to me. I’ve seen more of these type of situations than I care to remember. There often isn’t any answers to why people get addicted to drugs. One person told me recently that the reason they over drink all the time was because “I’m simply bored Kenneth. There isn’t much going on in my life so I figure I might as well drink rather than stare at the television”

Of course, not everyone who has an alcohol or drug problem are merely bored in life. I suppose there are a lot of different reasons. Yet it is strange to me that so many people complain to me that they are bored. Technology sure has changed things. A hundred years ago life was much more difficult; merely washing your clothes back then was an all-day task. Now to wash your clothes takes all of a few minutes; throw your clothes in the washer, pour in the detergent, and press <ON>.

Technology is awesome. It’s allowed us to make laborious tasks easy…..but at what cost?

My Uncle Bob would often say, “Idle hands are the devils workshop”, and I can’t help but wonder how much trouble people get into these days simply because they are bored and not keeping themselves busy.

But Kenneth, people have always gotten into trouble” you might say, and while that is definitely true, if we’re going to be honest about it; people are wasting more time than ever, perhaps people are wasting more time now than in the entire history of humanity.

When I worked at the rehab clinic there was a clear link between the people who were successful in overcoming their addiction and the people who were not; they kept themselves busy. I’m not talking about the silly busyness of running around constantly and not having much of a life. I’m talking about constructive busyness. For some people it’s reading and writing. For others it’s making art. Some people enjoy going out to coffee with friends, and others enjoy taking classes or teaching classes.

We are all different and each of us have to find our own niche in life; a particular thing that we enjoy and brings us a measure of satisfaction. Ultimately, it is important to find our passion, not merely to keep us off the dope; but to help connect us to a greater purpose in life. Otherwise…..what’s the purpose in staying sober?

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth


We need more laws…REALLY???

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By Kenneth Justice

~ “Imagine living in a home where your parents post new rules for you to obey every week. Imagine being 16 years old and having to obey thirty one thousand different rules every Friday night when you go to hang out with your friends, well that is what it’s like living here in this damn country!” he said

Yesterday at coffee I met a constitutional lawyer who was enjoying a week long sabbatical. We were discussing the recent election here in the U.S. when he got on the topic of the legal system,

In the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, we simply have too many laws. Politicians are elected on the basis of promising new laws that will help out their constituents; but the fact of the matter is we don’t need more laws, we need to get rid of laws” he said

In the United States, we have so many laws that nobody really knows how many actually exists, here’s an article that discusses the unknowable number of laws in the USA <click>.

Anyone who has grown up in a strict religious environment knows firsthand that rules tend to drive people nuts. It is one thing to have general guidelines; treat others with respect, don’t lie, etc. But when parents and religious leaders go crazy with endless laws and rules, it tends to cause their children to go crazy themselves.

Some historians theorize that by the end of the Ancient Roman Empire, there were so many laws on the books that many of the laws had begun to contradict each other, since it was a sheer impossibility for anyone to memorize all of them and cross reference each of them.

We live in a day and age when people look to the government for all the answers; people believe politicians and elected officials will bring hope to this crazy world. However, I’m not convinced the answer to our societal woes lies in the idea of politicians enacting more laws.

Perhaps it is time we start electing officials who promise to get rid of laws. Then again, perhaps I’m just a nut who drinks a bit too much coffee.

Kenneth


Stealing from the coffee shop….REALLY???

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~ Sunday I was typing away, working on a number of different papers, when a woman rushed over to my table at the coffee house, “Did you just see THAT?!” she said

Apparently, the one of the women sitting in the group of four middle aged women, who had been sitting next to me for the better part of two hours, left the coffee shop with a “BOOM”. She had walked over to the display case that shelves a bunch of café themed T-shirts and whatnot, grabbed a bunch of T-shirts, stuffed them under her jacket, and walked out of the café.

I was lost in my writing and hadn’t seen a thing, but the other patrons had all seen the theft, and since there are security cameras all over the place, it wasn’t difficult to identify the culprit responsible for the crime.

Most fascinating regarding the crime is the conversation that ensued afterwards. As with so many of my coffee house experiences, I was sitting there all by my lonesome doing my own thing, yet following the crime I now had three people who were congregating at my table which had become the center of conversation for the great coffee house caper of November 2014.

People want to connect. I’ve written ad nausea about the desire within our nature to connect with fellow human beings. Yet so many people simply don’t know how to strike up conversations with strangers; hell, a lot of people don’t even know how to strike up conversations with loved ones. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t see a couple on a date, a married couple, or a parent and their child, sitting in silence not really knowing what to say to each other.

Conversation is fast becoming a lost art. Back in the days of The Culture Monk’s youth, my father was a big proponent of teaching his children how to talk. He would sit us in the living room and hold mock conversations; we had to pretend we were strangers meeting each other for the first time. My Uncle Bob used to say, “Practice, practice, practice; it’s not just for football players”.

Conflict can be a positive tool. The theft of the merchandise gave the people at coffee something to talk about. It opened them up to breaking the ice between my lonesome self-sitting there at coffee. I suspect there is a propensity within our nature to be afraid of conflict. After all, conflict isn’t always easy to navigate. But conflict can be a positive tool in learning how to talk in greater depth with each other.

Talking with our children, loved ones, and friends about conflicting situations and ideas can be a great way to begin having deeper conversations; it can help us to move beyond staring at our cell phones and engaging our fellow humans in meaningful conversation.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,

Kenneth


“He didn’t want to sleep with me”…REALLY???

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by Kenneth Justice

~At coffee yesterday the young woman sitting next to me struck up a conversation with me, her boyfriend had stepped outside for a minute to smoke, and she was excited because they were celebrating their one year dating anniversary,

We met each other on a blind date, can you believe that? I’m not the blind date kind of girl” she said

What was it that attracted you to him?” I asked, but the look on her face made me think I asked a question that was too intrusive, “I’m sorry, perhaps I shouldn’t have asked you that?” I said

No, your question is fine” she said, “Go ahead ask me anything

Was the conversation with him good?” I asked

“Nope” she said

Was he funny? Did he have a good sense of humor?” I asked

Nope” she said

Were you instantly attracted to him? Was there a lot of chemistry between the two of you?” I asked

Nope” she said

At this point in the conversation I couldn’t help but laugh, “Ok, I give up, what attracted you to this dude?”

Honestly….” her tone had gotten really serious and a couple decibels lower, “He was the first guy that I ever went on a date with that didn’t try to have sex with me on the first night. No guy had ever treated me respectfully like that before” she said

Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of crazy world we’re living in where all a guy has to do get a woman interested in him is to keep his hands off of her. Has everyone gone mad? I mean, what is wrong with men these days in that women have become so accustomed to men trying to get into their pants on the first date, that when a guy comes along who demonstrates a little civility he is like the Lone Ranger; a man with integrity among a culture of crazed men.

At a coffee house last week I ran into a longtime acquaintance of mine, she had recently gotten out of a three year relationship, “Kenneth, I’ve been on three dates in the last month, and each one of the men talked about sports and video games incessantly. I swear, if they asked me one question about myself I can’t remember” she said

Sadly, the culture of men in much of the Western World has declined when it comes to intellectuality. More women throughout much of Europe and the America’s are graduating college than men. It has been wonderful to see how society began to correct itself when it came to gender equality for women; but the unintended consequence seems to be that we are producing more and more Neanderthal men.

Sure, there are always exceptions. Men who write and read and have intellectual depth are definitely out there; but they are quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule. Everywhere I go I run into guys who tell me they spend the majority of their week glued to their fantasy worlds; video game universes that only exist in cyber space.

Video games are killing of our men. Don’t believe me, consider these statistics;

—-) 1/3 of college students admit to playing video games while IN CLASS!

—-) 31% of men in one study admitted to feeling addicted to video games

—-) Studies have found that men are playing video games between 16 – 18 hours a week!

Instead of growing their minds through reading, conversation, and intellectual dialogue. Too many men are exchanging philosophical stimulation for the meaninglessness of video games.

If it sounds like I’m against video games, I’m not; as long as they are pushed to the back of the burner. They might very well be a positive element of entertainment, but the problem I see is that they’ve become a way of life. People view themselves as “GAMERS”. They identify themselves as Gamers, is that really a healthy self-identification?

Thirty years ago if someone spent the majority of their private life sitting alone in their bedroom, they would have been considered to be anti-social. Yet now-a-days, people who live solitary lives, alone in their room for more than half of the week, identify themselves as “Gamers”, as though it’s a badge of honor.

I realize some people might think my overtures on this subject are too severe. Yet when I look at this society of men, filled with a bunch of guys who no longer have the charm and intellectual capacity to keep a stimulating conversation going, I fear we have headed in the wrong direction.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,

Kenneth


I slept through the revolution…REALLY???

age of the internet

by Kenneth Justice

~ At coffee yesterday I ran into a forty-something friend of mine who began lamenting to me his woes, “Kenneth, I feel like the last decade has gone by and I didn’t even notice. I feel like Rip Van Winkle, I haven’t really done anything with my life for 10 years and everything just seems to be passing me by” he said

I guess it is easy to get into a monotonous routine in life and to one day wake up and realize it’s been ten years since you were really paying attention to things. So much of life is repetitive, wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, that if you’re not careful, you’ll one day wake up and realize you are much older than you remember.

A new revolution has occurred over the past few years. For a long time, the Western World was dominated by suburbia. People shopped at strip malls, raised their children at the end of cul-de-sacs, and spent their evenings watching television until they fell asleep in their Lazy-boy. But the new revolution has caused an entire generation of youth to flee the suburbs in search of cities and downtown environments.

The youth of the new millennium have grown up in an entirely different world. Pornography in the 21st century is as readily available and easy as watching Gilligan’s Island back in 1965. Flick on your computer, tablet, or IPhone and you can watch X-rated sex any time of the day, the kind of stuff that back in the day, you used to have to find at a video store as you walked shamefully past the children looking at Disney videos into the weird back room at the video store with the other middle class men wearing clunky glasses and pocket protectors.

There is a weird dichotomy in this new world that we live; young adults will spend sixty hours a week playing video games, yet at the same time they yearn for community and connectivity with each other. They search out Indie coffee houses and dive bars hoping to find likeminded individuals whom they can connect with and talk about life.

Yet, for every young adult searching out connectivity with others, there is another young adult being swallowed up by the Internet, the beastly thing that travels through all our homes. Too many young adults who should be talking, learning, and discussing truth with their peers and with older adults, are instead spending entire evenings in front of their screens watching games and making monotonous status updates on social networks.

This desire in their heart for connectivity, and all the time in solitary confinement in front of their computer screens are making a lot of people depressed. My friend at coffee expressed to me, “I think the Internet was the worst thing that ever happened to me, spending so much time on the Internet ended up making me anti-social”.

And so the suburbs are starting to decay. Old strip malls from the 1980’s and 1990’s are starting to look weathered and dumpy. Old department stores from the late 20th century have either gone out of business, or are on life support, waiting for someone to pull the plug and give them the dignity of death;

Montgomery Wards – GONE

Blockbuster Video – GONE

Borders Books – GONE

K-Mart – DYING

Sears – DYING

JCPENNY – DYING

Many stores, like Blockbuster Video, are gone because the Age of the Internet deemed them irrelevant. When I was a young adult, a big deal in my life was hanging out at the local music store and listening to the latest C.D.’s (think the era of Nirvana). Yet the Age of the Internet killed the music industry. Local music shops went the way of the Dinosaurs, and the very few that are left only exist thanks to an extremely small number of enthusiasts who still collect vinyl records.

The Internet Age has radically changed the world around us, and things will never be the same. Social networks have connected us together in an exciting new way, yet at the same time it has isolated so many people from the basic need of REAL human interaction. The Internet simply can’t replace the real life experience of being next to someone at a coffee shop, or deep in discussion by a fireside on a crisp autumn evening.

The Age of the Internet has ushered in a new world. All the rules are changed. Everything we knew back in the day, is now up for reevaluation. Are you ready?

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth


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