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Everything has moved

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
This blog has moved to soonercary.wordpress.com. Happy reading!

I Kissed Dating Goodbye - Book Review

Monday, July 27, 2009
While hunting around for another document just now, I found a review of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris that I wrote for an online magazine that I never sent for publication. This is a book that was very influential to me when I first read it, and I recommend it for anyone thinking about what God's role is in their relationship life. Unfortunately, I always have to clarify that this book is not about promoting not dating, rather, God's place in all aspects of relationship.

Review - I Kissed Dating Goodbye
Joshua Harris, Author
Review by Cary McCall


The Right Thing at the Wrong Time is the Wrong Thing

I sat on the kitchen counter in our student center at OU.

“What do I do?” I asked a spattering of older students who stood around me. These students, of course, were the two senior girls who had somehow officially declared their major to be Relationship Advice.

I was a new freshman and had enthusiastically rushed onto the college scene with guns blaring, ready to explore a new life and new people. However, I had declared my love to a girl from Kansas who was still in high school but starting to look at wedding dresses. We had given big portions of our hearts to each other, as well as our bodies. She was ready to take that commitment to the grave, but somehow I knew I was immature and needed the freedom to grow into this new university world and become the person that God wanted me to be. But to her, the prospect of a breakup seemed equal to divorce.

This relationship had just been a camp fling – how was it now a matter of emotional life and death?

It wasn’t until years later – when I was almost out of college – that I realized this relationship had gone the way of a vast majority “hook ups” in our culture: begin with fun and flair in mind, enjoy the “benefits” for a while, give away big portions of yourself that aren’t even yours, and then watch as it crashes in flames and pain.

Is there any way out of this cycle that is plaguing us and creating one fruitless relationship after another?

A New Attitude

Josh Harris thinks so. After enduring the age-old dating scene that took him from one girl to another in a world that worships self-gratification, he developed powerful convictions based on his relationship with God and the call to a Christian lifestyle. As a 21 year-old, he explained these decisions in his first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Over a million copies later, I Kissed Dating Goodbye has drawn international praise and is now published in thirteen languages. Others, however, remain skeptical of what some feel is an extreme message. Either way, I Kissed Dating Goodbye has played a key role in the relationship philosophies of thousands of young Christians, and has become a book that cannot be ignored.

Below the Surface

Harris, realizing the defenses that many will initiate at no more than the very title of his book, immediately works to dispel the preconceptions some may have of his message. The first is this: “Dating isn’t really the point.” He tells the reader that “[the] ultimate purpose is not to figure out if Christians should date, and if so, how.” Instead, the reader should examine “the aspects of your life that dating touches – the way you treat others, the way you prepare for your future mate, your personal purity – and attempt to bring these areas into line with God’s word.”

True to his word, Harris never makes a judgment call on dating itself but develops a careful, detailed spiritual analysis of the way our culture has taught us to form relationships. From this he makes a case for the Christian response.

A Radical Change

Based on his analysis of how the world goes about dating, Harris develops a list he calls “The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating.” Harris contends that many relationships, even among Christians, demonstrate these characteristics:
  • Dating leads to intimacy but not necessarily commitment.
  • Dating tends to skip the “friendship” stage of a relationship.
  • Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love.
  • Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships.
  • Dating, in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.
  • Dating can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness.
  • Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person’s character.
Avoiding these pitfalls, Harris states, takes a set of “new attitudes,” which he outlines in five philosophies:
  • Every relationship is an opportunity to model Christ’s love.
  • My unmarried years are a gift from God.
  • Intimacy is a reward of commitment – I don’t need to pursue a romantic relationship before I’m ready for marriage.
  • I cannot “own” someone outside of marriage.
  • I will avoid situations that could compromise the purity of my body or mind.
Harris makes it very clear that each one of these attitudes involves a radical shift of mindset and behavior for even the most ingrained Christian. But until each one of these attitudes can be accepted and mastered, dating remains a dangerous minefield controlled by a self-indulgent society. Thus, Harris recommends, as he has, to put dating on hold until God grows you to a point of being able to face dating with the spiritual maturity that God demands of it.

Assuming this decision, Harris then spends the rest of the book tackling what he considers to be the real issue: developing a full-bodied, passionate relationship with God. This, Harris claims, is what will turn singleness into a blessing and transform loneliness into contentment. This is what will eliminate the artificial “need” for romantic relationships.

Reaction

Josh Harris steps on a lot of toes with I Kissed Dating Goodbye. His gentle writing style, seasoned with poignant stories and dialogue, softens the fact that he is calling to the carpet a lot of self-indulgent Christians. His message, although critical of worldly thought patterns, is clearly written for those who say they follow Christ. But Harris shoots red hot spiritual flares into the air in a lot of religious circles that unconsciously promote a message of “date fast and marry early”; a message that Harris believes is informed by a relationship-dependent culture. To Harris, even traditionally noble ideas such as wanting to raise a family can, in the wrong mindset, be a mask for codependency that subtly keeps God from being the priority relationship. God must be first, and if dating has to go away until God can be there, then so be it.

Josh Harris’ message in I Kissed Dating Goodbye is strong and challenging. It forces a personal analysis at least, if not a total recommitment. Either way, Harris ruffles feathers with a book that is carrying a lion’s share of weight in the way young Christians are forming attitudes about dating, sex, and purity.

The Fog of War

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I mentioned the movie The Fog of War a few posts back in reference to the death of Robert McNamara. I really believe this is an incredibly important movie. I just now found the trailer on YouTube:

Kids These Days

Saturday, July 11, 2009
I post this for two reasons: 1) It features my great uncle. 2) It is a superb video edited in a way that makes what normally would be a pretty boring subject actually interesting. The tiny moments of odd humanity shown in these old people are poignant.









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I'm a Technology Prophet

Wednesday, July 08, 2009
In July 2006 I wrote this, which accurately predicted this.

I love it when I'm right! Awesome!

Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara

Monday, July 06, 2009
Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, primary architect of the Vietnam War, and president of the World Bank for many years, died today. This is probably unremarkable for many people, but this man played an incredibly significant role in the development of many American and world events.

I originally came to learn of the importance of Robert McNamara through Errol Morris' 2003 documentary The Fog of War. This is a powerful movie based entirely on 20 hours of interviews with an 85 year-old McNamara by Morris. He uses a camera technique that makes it feel like McNamara is talking directly to you. In this film, McNamara expounds upon eleven lessons he has learned in his life, most having to do with war and human nature. He is a deeply thoughtful and introspective man whose touching humanity may surprise you.

Here are the eleven lessons:
  1. Empathize with your enemy
  2. Rationality will not save us
  3. There's something beyond one's self
  4. Maximize efficiency
  5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
  6. Get the data
  7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
  8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
  9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
  10. Never say never
  11. You can't change human nature
Later, McNamara created ten additional lessons:
  1. The human race will not eliminate war in this century, but we can reduce the brutality of war—the level of killing—by adhering to the principles of a "Just War," in particular to the principle of "proportionality."
  2. The indefinite combinations of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will lead to the destruction of nations.
  3. We are the most powerful nation in the world—economically, politically, and militarily—and we are likely to remain so for decades ahead. But we are not omniscient. If we cannot persuade other nations with similar interests and similar values of the merits of the proposed use of that power, we should not proceed unilaterally except in the unlikely requirement to defend directly the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.
  4. Moral principles are often ambiguous guides to foreign policy and defense policy, but surely we can agree that we should establish as a major goal of U.S. foreign policy and, indeed, of foreign policy across the globe: the avoidance, in this century of the carnage—160 million dead—caused by conflict in the 20th century.
  5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment.
  6. Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head. Of course, they have responsibilities to stockholders, but they also have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.
  7. President Kennedy believed a primary responsibility of a president—indeed the primary responsibility of a president—is to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.
  8. War is a blunt instrument by which to settle disputes between or within nations, and economic sanctions are rarely effective. Therefore, we should build a system of jurisprudence based on the International Court—that the U.S. has refused to support—which would hold individuals responsible for crimes against humanity.
  9. If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy—I don't mean "sympathy," but rather "understanding"—to counter their attacks on us and the Western World.
  10. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the risk that terrorists will obtain access to weapons of mass destruction as a result of the breakdown of the Non-Proliferation Regime. We in the U.S. are contributing to that breakdown.
And then he produced eleven lessons from the Vietnam War:
  1. We misjudged then — and we have since — the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries … and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.
  2. We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience … We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.
  3. We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.
  4. Our judgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.
  5. We failed then — and have since — to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces, and doctrine.
  6. We failed, as well, to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.
  7. We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement … before we initiated the action.
  8. After the action got under way, and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course … we did not fully explain what was happening, and why we were doing what we did.
  9. We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.
  10. We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action … should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.
  11. We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions … At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.
Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.

Africa Bound

Saturday, May 16, 2009
On Monday I will be taking off towards Africa to work in Kigali, Rwanda, for six weeks.

Keep up with the team blog here.


Thank you for all of your support!