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Archive for May, 2010

Thoughts on the LOST finale: Do not read if you haven’t seen it yet

Posted by Chance on May 25, 2010

The spirituality presented in LOST was not by any means, theologically correct.  That’s not really a criticism because I know it is fantasy.  However, the “moral” of the story, and perhaps of the series as a whole is basically the idea that we can’t make it on our own.  We need other people.

Interestingly enough, this is a theme that has been in a few sermons at my church lately.  God built us with the need for other people.  In 1 Samuel we see the friendship between Jonathan and David and the importance of people having someone they can lean on.  God said that it was not good for man to be alone, that he needed a helper.   Ecclesiastes talks about the value of people not going at it alone.

Christianity is not meant to be an individual lifestyle; it should be something done in groups.  Sure, there should be time for one-on-one with God;  we see Jesus do that when he goes out into the desert.  But several times throughout the Bible we see people relying on other people in their individual walk, such as Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Silas, David and Jonathan, Jesus and his 12 disciples (I believe Peter and John were the ones especially close to him, but I’m not completely sure).

The LOST series culminates as the writers put forth the idea that we should not try to go through life alone. In the episode leading up to the finale, the ghost of Jacob meets the candidates and tells them what they must do. In the conversation Jacob points out that these candidates were chosen because they were alone like Jacob was; their life apart from the island was not so fantastic as they lived primarily solitary lives.

In the LOST finale, we see this moral of the story in full force. We see Jacob, the old protector of the island who lived alone (aside from his pesky twin brother the Man in Black) contrasted with Hurley, who is the new protector of the island. Hurley realizes he cannot do it himself and asks Ben to be his number 2. Additionally, we see that the Flash Sideways Timeline (FST) was in fact a type of purgatory in which the characters of the series lived out their previous lives as if the island never existed. Certain events happen so that many of the main characters of the series (many who had died earlier in the series in the Original Timeline (OT) ) remember their past life on the island and they all end up in a single place together, which happened to be a church. The main point of this FST was that the characters would transition to the afterlife together, reuniting with the people who were most significant in their previous lives.

The LOST finale made an important point about living life in that we should do it together, we don’t have to go it alone. While this doesn’t sound philosophically profound, it is a point that is often missed, especially in Christian circles. The Bible makes the point several times that we should live our lives together. Living for God is not an individual effort.

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Posted in Christianity, Culture | 1 Comment »

The defense of profits

Posted by Chance on May 21, 2010

In this blog post, the author asks

See, this is why I don’t understand all the right wingers who are against health care reform. The parent company to Anthem Blue Cross made a profit of $877 MILLION dollars. Which was 51% more than last year. At the same time, these marks, wanted to raise premiums. THIS IS THE SYSTEM THAT THE RIGHT WING IS STRIVING TO PROTECT.Yes, this is why I have no respect for the right wing on this issue.

I’ll indulge the author on this issue.  I was going to write a lengthy rebuttal, but it looks like someone already has.

Anthem of California’s requested rate increase on individual policies was actually 20-35 percent. The only way it could get to 39percent would be if a policyholder insisted on a gold-plated Cadillac plan and also happened to move up into a higher age group. […]
He [Obama] complained that in the $1.2 trillion health insurance industry, “the five largest insurers made record profits of over $12 billion.” But that puny sum includes WellPoint’s sale of its pharmacy benefits management company NextRX to Express Scripts for $4.7 billion last April. Adding that $4.7 billion to WellPoint profits is like saying a family’s income rose by $1 million because they sold a million-dollar home. […]

University of Michigan economist Mark Perry calculated that without the sale of NextRX, “WellPoint’s profit margin would have been only 3.9 percent, the industry average profit margin would have been closer to 3percent”— $100 per policy.

But aside from that point, even if a company makes profits, these zany right wingers still believe in the free market because we believe that even when a company makes a profit, the net cost of an item will still be less than a similar item offered by the government.  The profit of a private corporation will typically be less than the inefficiencies produced in a government system.  Profits are also regulated by competition;  the more competitors there are, the lower the prices.  Government has no such competition.

Maybe right-wingers think the way we do because we don’t have knee-jerk reactions every time we hear about companies making a big profit (For one, what is the actual profit margin.  How much is $877 mil compared to total gross?  Profits rose 51% but compared to what?  51% increase from say, 3% is 4.5%)  .  But for the record, we, at least the free-market sort, do not want to “protect” the system.  I want to change the system as well, although not in the same way.

Concerning profits as a whole, people who believe in a free market recognize that people operate based on incentives. We go to work, put in our time, and we expect to get paid. If we do a good job, we get rewarded; if we do a bad job, we can get fired. If I get a raise, I’m happy. Why do we expect everyone else to operate differently?  Granted, sometimes people get rewarded much more exorbitantly than we do.  Frankly, I’m just not worried about those people.

Posted in Capitalism | 13 Comments »