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pr0n and me

Let me briefly share my experience with porn. I know what it’s like to be addicted. I know what it’s like to abstain. I know what it’s like to be free.

My first memory of porn was when I was probably 6 or 7 when the neighborhood kids found a stash. I already knew that my parents considered it forbidden, and it was fascinating. By the time I was a teenager, my religious upbringing and my church leaders convinced me that I was addicted to porn.

I spent many painful, sometimes suicidal, years of the ups and downs of acting in and acting out. I pled with God to forgive me for my perversion and to deliver me from it. I would get my hopes up only to have them dashed. Over and over the cycle continued.

I eventually learned to manage my behavior and had several years of sobriety, but deep down I was ashamed to be an addict. I couldn’t publicly admit that I was an addict, and my shame isolated me.

I had learned to manage my behavior with the help of books like Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes which taught me to recognize the root of my sexual addiction: shame and fear.

As I patiently uprooted the causes of self-shaming and fear, I came to realize that all those years I had believed that I was defective for being attracted to porn, but the truth was that my shame for being defective made my attraction to porn unmanageable and pathological. Let me repeat that. My shame for being attracted to porn made my attraction to porn a problem.

That was a revelation and a deliverance.

Once I accepted that I had never been defective, that my addiction was only a vicious cycle caused by my shame for being addicted, I began to notice all the messages I was getting from every direction that caused my shame. I refused to accept the shame the world wanted to put on me, and I was healed.

I hope this will shed light on some of the reasons that I try to calm the moral panic that surrounds porn. In my experience, panic and fear is a large part of the problem.

Spreading fear hurts people.

Do we owe gratitude to the universe?

Gratitude begins with the recognition that something we value or enjoy could have been different. For a practically infinite number of reasons, I might never have been born, ranging from cosmic circumstances like if the Earth had formed a little farther away from or closer to the Sun, to details like if my parents had decided “not tonight.”

Gratitude begins with the ability to imagine the world counterfactually.

I can easily feel this kind of gratitude when regarding the cosmos. I feel “lucky” that I’m alive, but is that gratitude?

When I think of gratitude, I usually think of it as something more than just feeling lucky. I think of it as warm feelings for someone else for doing something that I value that they didn’t have to do. They could have done something else, but they didn’t, so I feel grateful to them.

I feel like I owe them something because it is human nature to try to reciprocate good or ill that comes our way. If nothing else, I give them my feelings of gratitude.

My life exists on a razor’s edge. As I mentioned, there are so many reasons why I might never have been born. There are almost as many reasons why I might have died since then. So I feel grateful that I exist at all, but my gratitude is not directed to the universe.

As far as I can tell, the universe is impersonal and therefore indifferent to my existence. The universe hasn’t conspired to give me life and sustain it. Life for me and my ancestors has always been a hard fight against an indifferent universe to eek out a living. If anything, I feel like I have everything I value in spite of the universe.

Yet I wouldn’t have the things I value without the universe.

However unwitting, the universe is the ground in which the beauty of my life has grown. So I feel grateful for the universe, but I don’t give any gratitude to the universe.

This is one reason that even though I can see myself as a pantheist, I don’t see in myself a perfect reflection of the devotion that theists express to their gods.

I feel more awe and fear toward my god than devotion, and yet I still feel gratitude for the cosmos.

Creative Commons License Do we owe gratitude to the universe? by Jonathan Blake is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Big Five Update

Here’s my new results on the Big Five personality test: O53-C41-E15-A32-N18.

Interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t. I feel less conscientious and more neurotic this year. In fact, I feel pretty neurotic about my lack of conscientiousness. :( I’m not sure what to make of my increased agreeableness. Perhaps I feel less interpersonal conflict in my life right now.

Stats on Porn

I find porn ever-fascinating. Online MBA put together the following facts…

The Stats on Internet Pornography

(via /r/exmormon/)

That’s My Girl(s)!

“How does life work? How does evolution work? Why are [living] things successful? How did nature make us? Why are we the smartest animals even though we’re related to them? We think we’re smart, but nature made lots of amazing things. We’re like robots, but we’re better. We can heal ourselves, but robots can’t. It’s so amazing!”

That paraphrased (and greatly summarized) monologue came out of my oldest daughter’s mouth.

“We believe that God made everything,” says her younger sister.

“You can believe in both things. You can make a combination,” says older. Then to me, “I try not to talk about Jesus things when you’re around because you don’t believe in it.”

I told them that it’s OK to talk about Jesus, just that I would have a different perspective about the subject than other people. We also talked about trying to figure out for yourself what you believe.

I am interested to watch my oldest start to ask big questions and really think about her world. Most children are natural-born philosophers, coming out of the womb with a need to make sense of life. It is tragic to see children’s natural curiosity and nascent critical-thinking skills crippled by spoon-feeding them too many answers.

(BTW, Don’t get used to this high frequency of posts. I believe it will prove to be a statistical outlier.)

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Here is my humble entry for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. (How do you spell the dude’s name anyway.

Friendly Atheist has a compilation (via Meming of Life).

And you know Jesus, he went right for the groin with his submission.

Big Five

I took a free version of a test which scores the Big Five personality traits which actually has some scientific basis.

Here are my results: O53-C64-E12-A17-N5.

I’ll take the test about a year from now and start my own longitudinal study. (The following chart won’t make sense until I have more data.)

Latest Desktop

I thought it would be nice to share my latest work desktop (≈500 kB) this morning. Think warm thoughts!

Desktop 2010-01-26

DJ Drez

I just learned about DJ Drez, a yogi who spins world music with hip-hop beats. Take Jatha Beat—The Progression for example. Downtempo with exotic Eastern sounds to get my creative juices flowing. I like.


Review: Mouse’s Tank: The Legend Retold

Mouse's Tank: The Legend Retold Mouse’s Tank: The Legend Retold by Mike Donahue

Mouse’s Tank is a fictionalized retelling of the story of Mouse, a renegade Southern Paiute who steals from the white Mormons of St. Thomas who have stolen the homeland of his people, the People, where they had lived for a thousand years. Mouse is immortalized in the name of Mouse’s Tank, a natural catch basin in the of the Valley of Fire where he hid out.

I picked up this local publication because I had visited Mouse’s Tank and heard the story about the Indian who defied white man’s law and because I’m fascinated by the lifeways of the people of the Mojave. Being a native Las Vegan, I feel a deep connection to the desert spaces of my childhood and like to hear stories about its people.

The writing is rather florid; the author romanticizes the Paiute, falling into the Noble Savage meme; and the book could have used some more proofreading, but it was a quick, enjoyable read. I could tell the author shares my love of the subtle beauties of the Mojave. The desert landscape could easily be confused for the protagonist because of how much attention its sight, sounds, and scents receive.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed it. Perhaps that’s because I’m a native son.

View all my reviews