Friday, January 27, 2017

Non-Religious Reasons: Part 4 - Abortion

Part 3 here

One non-religious reason against safe abortions.

There isn't one. ...because there is no such thing as a "safe" abortion.

Just a refresher (from Google). Abortion: the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy.

Definition of "Pregnant": having a child or other offspring developing in the body.

So, every single abortion is the termination of a developing baby.

"But Luke," you may say, "it's not a baby, it's a fetus."

...which, if you were thinking that, you clearly missed Part 1 of this brief series where you learned that a fetus, by definition, is "an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception."

Though you may feel it at the moment, I'm not so thick as to not understand what "safe" means in the original context. It means "safe for the mother." And, yes, if I had to choose between losing two lives over one, I'm utilitarian enough to agree that "safe" is better than "unsafe" ... but such a discussion misses the more important part: The purpose of abortion is to terminate an unborn fetus' life (remember: human baby).

And one of the roles of the government is to protect its citizenry. And while it is true that the unborn do not currently fall under the protected status, anyone who cares about the disenfranchised, the powerless, the voiceless should be demanding that our government do better, be better, and seek to protect the most defenseless.

This is not to say that I do not have incredible sympathy for women in crisis pregnancy situations. We must do better by them (and the Church -- which, I realize has nothing to do with non-religious stuff -- I believe should be at the forefront of that, which is why I'm so proud my church is involved in Alternatives). In fact, some of the most frustrating things for me when I hear about Pro-Choice arguments are all the things that make women in these situations feel like they don't have a choice. Be it churches, boyfriends, their family, or socially, we have repeatedly failed women who need love, support, and care during these horrible situations.

And I'm not even 100% against abortion. I merely think that we should start with the assumption that it's wrong -- like killing anyone -- and allow for the possibility that there may be times when the government has reason to condone such behavior (like in self-defense or national security). Of course, I would urge everyone to be as cautious about that as possible. But, really, that's a totally different topic.

-----

In conclusion:

Please, at minimum, take two minutes to google a topic before posting about it on social media.

And, if you don't feel like doing that much work yourself, come chat with me and I'd be thrilled talk about these issues. I get it: marriage, research, and health are huge, important, complicated issues filled with all kinds of nuances and twists that make it difficult. I appreciate the difficulties with many of these things and fully recognize where the Church and Christians and I have totally screwed up in these kinds of things. I urge us all to do better, and I know I have much to learn about all this.

But if you are looking for nothing more than one non-religious reason why the government should be concerned, I hope I've helped you out.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Non-Religious Reasons: Part 3 - Stem Cell Research

Part 2 here

One non-religious reason against stem cell research.

There isn't one. ...but this isn't what people are actually arguing about.

See, if we did the smart thing and collected stem cells from fat tissue instead of embryos, no one would/should be complaining. And I read this scientific knowledge first in Wired way back in 2010! (Seriously, it's a great article: All Natural: Why Breasts Are the Key to the Future of Regenerative Medicine and has been out for more than half a decade.) If you took the time to look at the science, you would find that fat is a ridiculously better source for stem cells than unborn human babies (aka "fetus"):

There is roughly one adipose stem cell per 100 fat cells. (By comparison, bone marrow contains one per 250,000 to 400,000 cells.)

So go donate some of your fat for science (I'm willing!) and let's super-power stem cell research.

What people complain about is the use of stem cells from aborted children (and not just for the obvious scientific reasons).

...which brings us to the non-religious reason against safe abortions.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Non-Religious Reasons: Part 2 - Same Sex Marriage

Part 1 here

Give me one non-religious reason against same sex marriage.

There isn't one. ...but this isn't actually a problem for people who support traditional marriage.

See, marriage itself is a religious practice. It is a covenant between two people. For the Christian, it was established by God and therefore has a lot of stuff associated with it (things you're likely to hear about during a traditional marriage celebration).

"But Luke," you may say, "non-religious people get married too!"

Yes, in a sense. But these -- again, going no further than Wikipedia -- are civil unions defined as "marriage without religious content carried out by a government institution." And, I don't know if you remember back to when the whole gay marriage "thing" went viral here in the States, but that was one of the main arguments put forth by the supporters of "traditional (read: religious) marriage": Civil unions already exist; it is against the First Amendment for the government to force civil unions into the definition of marriage.

Now, does that mean I think we should strip gay couples of their rights? Not at all! Indeed, when I first heard how the government was mistreating some homosexual couples, I was angry and could not believe that some civil unions did not provide the partners opportunity to file their taxes jointly or to have visitation rights at hospitals. That was absurd.

But rather than fixing the government's problems, the government crashed through the separation of church and state and established a mandated religious expression for same sex unions.

You should be on the side of "traditional marriage" while also demanding better from our government concerning the civil unions it oversees.

"But Luke," you may say, "the government hands out marriage licenses. So marriage is a legal (not religious) thing."

And you are right, in part. The part of marriage that is connected to the government has everything to do with what the government does: collecting taxes, enforcing justice, and ensuring their citizenry is not abused. It doesn't actually define marriage itself (though, in seeking to protect, say, children, incest and under-aged pairings are often prohibited).

Please note: Marriage should not be defined by the government. The only time the government gets involved is when the elements of unions impact taxes and separations.

Click here to go on to the non-religious reason against stem cell research.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Non-Religious Reasons: Part 1 - Separation of Church and State

I can't find the original, but these questions are attributed to maswartz:

I honestly think people forget that the church and state are supposed to be separate. Give me one non-religious reason against same sex marriage. One non-religious reason against stem cell research. One non-religious reason against safe abortions. Go ahead.

Enough of my friends have been sharing this lately that I thought I'd take the time to actually write down the reasons rather than just thinking, 'Just one? Okay.'

Before we jump into the specific questions, we need to address the larger issue first: Separation of Church and State.

You need merely type the phrase into Google and it will reveal to you (from Wikipedia) that:

  1. It's not actually part of any official government documentation, but rather is a phrase from a letter written by Jefferson.
  2. The text from the First Amendment specifically restricts the State establishing a religion...
  3. and prohibits the government interfering with religious expression.

In other words: The idea is that government must not interfere with religious experience whatsoever. It says nothing about religious people being part of the State or their involvement with government.

And when it comes to questions of marriage, research, and terminating a fetus ("an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception") I plan to show that the State has at least one non-religious reason to be concerned. Moreover, for those who want greater separation between government and religion, you have my wholehearted agreement if you've read the above and think, "Sheesh, yeah, let's stop having the government infringe on religious practice."

Even if you don't agree, I urge you to click here to move on to the non-religious reason against same sex marriage.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Sad Day for Irony

The New York Times wrote a piece about Walmart which Walmart "fact checked" which was then counter "fact checked" by the Huffington Post. <sigh>

The comments, as usual, are rampant and mostly side with the side of the article the person is reading. Feel free to wade in those waters if you like. But for me, the piece I haven't seen mentioned at all is something so painfully obvious that I just can't fathom how we haven't mentioned it yet. The one section of the original article that made me roll my eyes was this little gem:

It's a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class. Most advanced nations do those things for their people. ... By default, we have no choice but to lean on our corporate overlords.

He's probably railing against corporatism and just doesn't realize it yet. There's much irony there, but that's not what made me roll my eyes. The question is much more obvious:

What do "advanced nations" do to generate wealth to fund education, health care, and boost the middle class?

I'm not an economist. I know very little. But I do know this: The only way a nation makes money is by people producing goods/services and trading them locally/globally. In other words, we create wealth when we produce stuff. Citizens, individuals, and businesses create value and trade in goods and services to such profit that the government can tax their activity to provide for things the government and/or its citizens want done.

The government does not have a way to generate wealth in and of itself. It takes a cut of every transaction -- including a car you buy used, which has already been taxed and, should it be sold multiple times, could be taxed for more than it was originally sold. In a very real sense, then, even if we were to find a government-run utopian solution to education, health care, and middle class boosting, we would do so by leaning on our corporate overlords ...our employers, be it ourselves or someone else.

So what is the article's author's solution?

Congress could raise the minimum wage, make college more affordable, or even make it universally accessible for all qualified applicants. At the very least, it could reduce the student loan burden.

Solution 1: Have the government create wealth. Uh, how is Congress going to generate the money needed to pay everyone more? Printing money does not create value, it creates inflation which reduces the value of the dollars already owned (which is great for people, or governments, in debt, not so good for people only buy what they can afford).

Solutions 2 & 3: Make college cheaper/free. How? Thus far, from what I've read, the skyrocketing tuition costs are precisely because of the government's involvement. I like the idea of free online education -- hence why I offer my own free film school -- but there are huge problems with free online education; my own experience has shown that students don't complete free online classes.

Solution 4: Reduce the student loan burden. I don't even know what that means from any kind of practical standpoint.

Any solution based non-ironically on irony is simply sad.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

Monday, June 09, 2014

Why Kids Today Can't Define Marriage

Marriage is about LOVE

This image showed up in my Facebook feed today, posted by one of my super-sweet "kids" whom I love dearly. But every time one of my friends shares these kinds of images, Duty Calls... not because I want to start a shouting match on Facebook, but because, as my friend, I feel like this person deserves to have a chance to at least think about these things for more than the time it takes to click "like."

Let's run through this, shall we?

1. What is love? (by the way, greatest proto-techno song ever <smile>) Or, to be more precise, how is marriage-oriented love different and distinct from the many other loves we have in life (family, friends, pets, technology [like for your iPhone or the near-future presented in the film "Her"], lovers, sweethearts, crushes, etc)?

2. Assuming we have a workable definition of what "LOVE" -- as mentioned in the photo above -- means, what is wrong with polygamy, polyandry, or marrying your children once they are of age? Is there? Or does Equal not mean Equal?

3. What is marriage? Marriage should certainly be about love ... but the thing something is about does not, in any way, define what it is. I know that may not be very clear, so an example: A television show can be about gay weddings, but it is not -- itself -- a gay wedding. So what is marriage?

4. Assuming we have a working definition of marriage, let us not forget the very insightful words of Jay Michaelson: "'Marriage will never set us free,' wrote academics Dean Spade and Craig Wilse last September, ... same-sex marriage is a step backward for LGBTQ people and others whose agenda is liberation rather than assimilation." [Hat Tip: Brian Sandifer]

Love is beautiful. Marriage is beautiful. Marriage is also (as rightly pointed out in the image above) more than a religious thing (though religion is there); it is more than a baby thing (though, as we know, that's there too); it's more than about money (though that's a big part of it, and the major reason why the government is involved at all). So, as it stands, marriage is a cultural phenomenon highly influenced by religious thought and political pressures. It also, depending on the history you read, has a strong basis in religious symbolism and ideals. We, as a society (especially within the church) have allowed it to stop being everything it is and instead joined the masses in believing marriage is about "being happy" and "love." But what it is, at its heart, that we have lost. And so, given that, I'm fine if our society wants to make marriage about "LOVE" of whomever or however many. That doesn't bother me. But the loss of what traditional marriage is and means, that is a significant loss indeed. Especially in light of the fact that most kids I talk to today can't even define marriage or why someone would want to get into it other than that they are "in love" and want to "be happy" ...whatever that means.

I'm not trying to stir up any heated arguments, I just want to point out -- again -- the silliness of these kinds of sentiments and how little thought there is behind them.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian

Monday, May 06, 2013

Photos, Miracles, Lies, and Humor

God, the comedian on Facebook, recently re-posted a picture from Nirmukta:


Miracles vanished with the invention of the camera ...until Photoshop

Funny.

Sorta.

It's also insipid and a lie.

As a filmmaker, I have a mild interest in the image acquisition game. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the camera was invented in 1888. Photoshop was released exactly 100 years later, in 1988. Based on the graph above, we should have zero reports of miracles during the early 1900s.

Does that match up with reality?

Not at all.

Google instantly fed me a few options, from the odd Miracle of the Sun to the massive Pentecostal healing movement. In other words, the graph above--created by an organization dedicated to promoting Science and Freethought--felt free enough to generate data to promote their ideals, disregarding all facts to the contrary. And here's why that bothers me so very, very much: Since this is humor, it turns off people's minds. Rather than thinking about what they've seen on Facebook, the masses fall in step and say, "Yeah! Miracles, what a bunch of hogwash!" And in their ignorant free-thought, they swallow the lie, hook, line, and sinker.

Granted, this group exists to "promote a naturalistic life philosophy as a moral and fulfilling alternative to religion and spirituality." ...something that simply cannot be done. There is no morality in naturalism. Naturalism, while absolutely a philosophy, discredits itself as such. And naturalism cannot bring fulfillment. This aspect of their mission fails before we finish the bullet point.

Another goal is to "promote scientific literacy and to fight against pseudo-science." I would propose that the best way to do this is to create information that is scientific and discard this rubbish you find funny but does the exact opposite of your stated purpose. I'd also recommend that in teaching "scientific literacy" they also encourage people to learn to think well at the same time, and so realize that naturalistic thinking produces crap... what C.S. Lewis so masterfully illustrates as "secretions."

On the fully naturalistic view all events are determined by laws. Our logical behaviour, in other words our thoughts, and our ethical behaviour, including our ideals as well as our acts of will, are governed by biochemical laws; these, in turn, by physical laws which are themselves actuarial statements about the lawless movements of matter. These units never intended to produce the regular universe we see: the law of averages (successor to Lucretius's exiguum clinamen) has produced it out of the collision of these random variations in movement. The physical universe never intended to produce organisms. The relevant chemicals on earth, and the sun's heat, thus juxtaposed, gave rise to this disquieting disease of matter: organization. Natural selection, operating on the minute differences between one organism and another, blundered into that sort of phosphorescence or mirage which we call consciousness--and that, in some cortexes beneath some skulls, at certain moments, still in obedience to physical laws, but to physical laws now ļ¬ltered through laws of a more complicated kind, takes the form we call thought. Such, for instance, is the origin of this paper: such was the origin of Professor Price's paper. What we should speak of as his 'thoughts' were merely the last link of a causal chain in which all the previous links were irrational. He spoke as he did because the matter of his brain was behaving in a certain way: and the whole history of the universe up to that moment had forced it to behave in that way. What we called his thought was essentially a phenomenon of the same sort as his other secretions--the form which the vast irrational process of nature was bound to take at a particular point of space and time.
~C.S. Lewis "God in the Dock" Religion without Dogma?

Also, manipulating of images began long before Photoshop or the camera was invented. Here are a few examples of photo-tampering from the past. In case you're interested.

Please, use your brain. Feel free to chuckle, as I did, but know that you're being fed lies. You'd be foolish to accept them blindly.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Michael Moore, Monsanto, and Me

A few years ago I watched Michael Moore's flick about Capitalism. After the credits, a simple search revealed that Moore was merely mistaken when he created his flick: It's Corporatism, silly man.

I just finished watching a far-less fun flick, but with a bit more information: Genetic Roulette. If you've been in the gluten-free world and seen Food, Inc--as I have--the first 40-60 minutes may be familiar (or boring). But there's some good stuff that was new to me, and the end really picks up.

So, Michael Moore misunderstands what he rants about and Monsanto sure looks evil... what do those have to do with each other?

Politics.

Going into the Genetic Roulette film, I expected some kind of cry for government intervention or overhaul. You know, the two sides to the same coin where Reds and Blues live. Instead, I found the Libertarian view peeking around the corner. "We have the power," the filmmaker intoned. "It's up to us to make this right by using market forces to bring change that our government--for a billion (trillion?) little green reasons--has failed to do."

Granted, just like Michael in his films, there was lots of talk of what the government should do, and what evil, money-grubbing corporations have done... but ultimately, the burden was placed back on us: the people.

I found that happily refreshing. Like a GMO-free smoothy.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taxes and the Trinity

The Mormon Missionaries have shown up again, which is always really cool. We get to sit down and just chat about whatever they bring up. Every time it's different, so I always wonder if I'm saying the right thing. Ultimately, it's up to God... but your prayers are always welcome as we chat with all the kids God brings into our lives (what a joy and blessing!).

This week, the doctrine of the Trinity came up again. We were reading 3 Nephi 11 and came across verse 27: "...verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one."

I stopped us there. "That sounds pretty Trinitarian to me."

The one response they had was that in verse 32, Jesus is recorded as saying, "I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me." Thus showing distinction between the two... namely, that they aren't truly one in anything other than purpose.

Standing under the hot water of my morning shower, a thought struck me: The Trinity is modeled in Taxes. I've heard many explanations and word pictures used to describe this mystery. How does this one fit?

Brittany and I are two distinct persons. If we had a kid, that'd be a third. But to the government, we are but one entity when filing taxes: The Holzmann Family. They see us as dependents and parents, to be sure, but ultimately we are only one. One family, three persons.

Considering how often God uses family to give us pictures of who He is and how He works--Lover, Husband, Parent (Ezekiel 16 comes to mind)--it doesn't seem like a very big stretch to think that this may be another glimpse into the mystery of the Trinity. God, in and of Himself, makes up a complete "family." But this heavenly family is made up of the persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the unit is the Godhead Trinity.

That make sense to you? Or is my morning shower not the best time for theological pondering?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free Film School

Learn how to make movies.

I haven't been on this blog much because I've been working on my Filmmaking 101 course. It's a 36 week introduction to movie making. The first ten weeks are up and running, and I'm working on getting the rest done.

But I have a problem: I don't know who wants to learn how to make movies. So, I'm passing this on to you to pass on to anyone you know who wants to learn how to shoot videos. If you have an aspiring filmmaking--or are one yourself--please check out my free film school and tell others as well.

Thanks!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester