1. Gentleness can be an interesting subject, since many people aren’t going to agree on exactly how that should manifest. No one’s ever going to conquer that one entirely, regardless of what they think. And often enough most people seem nice or at least capable of niceness, but they all have their times when they’re pretty nasty. So one of the worst things anyone can do is think they have actually mastered gentleness. But one of the things that seems to help is practicing discretion, and constantly asking how a situation could be handled better.

    I’ve kinda been asking myself that when it comes to many aspects of internet pileons and whatnot. Those seem destructive in many ways, and it’s hard not to be mad when that destruction is often caused over something ridiculous. But then there’s also cases where the person sorta does deserve criticism, though maybe not in the way ‘callout culture’ does it. A lot of people might say that they’re actually ‘calling people in’ rather than calling them out, but it ends up being more toxic than they realize either way. I’ve had some ideas for how to handle the issue and maybe how Christians should respond to some of it, and maybe applying some positive tactics in these scenarios could be a way for Christians to be a good influence.

    Your idea of something being important but not the primary area of focus makes sense. Most things are important to some degree, but that doesn’t mean we can focus on them at all times. One example could be the possibility of one’s SO cheating on them. Obviously that matters a lot, and people should be aware of that possibility, but being paranoid about it(especially if the SO hasn’t done anything yet) would only drive a wedge in the relationship. Instead, people should focus more on making the relationship as good as possible, that way there’s less motivation to cheat in the first place.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Yeah, it’s tough to make any meaningful statements without at least being accused of being insensitive on some level. But trying to be sensitive is certainly better than not trying. Though my point in this post is it’s important to communicate truth even if it’s difficult to do so. We certainly see that in Paul’s writing–a continual but also heartfelt and empathetic confrontation against false doctrine and sinful behavior. I think that’s a model for an important aspect of spiritual warfare (not the only aspect, but an important one).

      As for being aware of something as a primary focus, I’m not sure cheating is a good example, though I think I know what you mean. Cheating is a kind of thing that could happen though not likely (hopefully) but you should be aware it can happen but not ruin things by freaking out about it. Spiritual war is like cyberwar in that it IS happening, all the time, even if you don’t see it but you are also being protected by things you also don’t see (in Cyberwar it’s security software, in spiritual war, God and/or angelic beings). But kinda unlike cyberwar, you win the war not by focusing on what the enemy is doing (making sure your security software is updated) as much as focusing on what you should do. It’s like a fictional battle in which you will win as long as you retain the initiative to attack first (though in spiritual war you aren’t attacking per se, you are living a life for God, but I hope you get my point). But if you hesitate and give the enemy an opportunity to respond by not doing what you know you should do, the enemy has a chance to wallop you.

      In this way spiritual war is a bit like looking for IEDs (roadside bombs) in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you see them they can be cleared by special troops and you’ll be fine. And most could be seen (though not all) if you could notice the subtle clues, so your main danger comes from lapses of attention and not doing what you’re supposed to do. Though that analogy is imperfect because the thing you had to be alert to search for was a specific kind of enemy attack and you’d probably be dead if you missed it. In spiritual war your first job ISN’T to search out enemy attacks, it’s to seek the face of God. Though you should be aware attacks are happening on an invisible level and they can hurt you if you stop seeking God as your first priority.

  2. notleia says:

    I’m going to repost a previous off-topic because I want Travis’s input.

    What’s your opinion on the release of the Afghani version of the Pentagon Papers? I remember you were in the PR division, but since you were the boots on the ground, I want to know your experience of the clustermush.

    It sounds like there was very little of an objective beyond “Taliban bad.” It also sounds like we ran/are running it like a halfassed colony. Is that even wrong?

    Or should I find your blog and slap this discussion up over there?

    • Maybe SpecFaith needs a forum where we can all post threads to chat about random nerd things/hang out, that way you can talk about all this stuff without driving people crazy for being off topic 😛 Like, I don’t care if you go off topic now and then, but obviously other people do, and a forum for chatting outside the context of the articles would be kinda cool and useful.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I haven’t read the 2000 or so pages of the Afghan Pentagon Papers (Note on words, “Afghani” refers to the currency of Afghanistan only. The nationality of Afghanistan is “Afghan”). I would say a lot of Americans working in Afghanistan were clueless about what they were doing and it sounds to me like the reports in the Afghan papers include a lot of cluelessness, in both capturing that people didn’t know what they were doing, but also cluelessness of critics of what people were doing, who didn’t know how to evaluate or analyze what was going on either. So the cynics are not giving unvarnished truth, but rather cynical guesses (whereas I honestly believe I can make informed estimates).

      The report seemed to make a big deal of reports by SIGAR (Special Investigation Group Afghan Reconstruction) and I worked with SIGAR guys on one particular investigation and while they did know how to track money, they were generally clueless about Afghan society and effects that took place there. They were, not surprisingly, money guys, and were in a terrible position to judge what was really going on. I could give specific examples, but don’t want to dwell on this off-topic conversation too much here.

      The biggest tragedy I know of was Afghanistan showed many signs of still having significant problems because most of the country (geographically) had barely any presence from coalition nations, but approaching 2012 there was pressure to write stories of progress in the country because NATO allies wanted out. The USA went through a series of shutting down bases as did many allies like Italy and Spain and Germany etc when the little evidence available did not indicate the Afghan government was able at that time to take over.

      I could explain to you in detail exactly what I think was wrong if you want to know–I know a huge amount of insider information on this topic, more than I should have by unusual happenstance, but I don’t want to say any more under this post here on Speculative Faith. If you want more info, you can email me at tt_perry@hotmail.com

What do you think?