compassion

Revery Interrupted

Dear Russell & Friends,

I had intended to post on stewardship this morning and was thinking about the structure of the post and the planned alliteration before falling asleep last night.  I awoke to the morning solitude, strong coffee, an open journal and the internet newspaper.

Again.  Terror again.  Violence directed at the unarmed and uninvolved. Violence without warning, without defense.  Violence by those wanting to die – – a locally uncounterable strategy.  And those who started a normal day weep.  And those loved ones lost.  And I just can’t write about stewardship or even the punchline – – time.

I grieve with you, those who suffer the sudden loss of love now fully recognized.  I grieve with you, those in physical pain and mental shock in Paris hospitals.  I grieve with you friends and families at the bedsides I have so frequently attended feeling – – helpless.

Dare I grieve for the misguided, angry and evil young men who convinced themselves that this was for God’s glory?  Dare I grieve for the mothers of these men and wonder if this was their aspiration?  Dare I grieve for those who hold their faith as preciously as I hold mine and see themselves disdainfully numbered amongst the criminally insane?  I dare.

Dear God – – I know these few sentences will be a thin slice of what is aching in my heart. Please comfort the broken.  Please heal the hurt.  Please walk amongst us with compassion and join our suffering as you did in Jesus Christ.  Please forgive these most despicable of our enemies and give us the courage to follow your lead.  Thank you for being there and for caring when we hurt too much to breathe.

Love,

Pascal – – 1:16

 

Do You Know Your Purpose? Is Your Personality Related to Your Beliefs about God?

Wow – recovery from a coma!

What a crazy week. Thank you, Pascal and friends, for your prayers. I added my own to the mix. I’m so glad J’s (CC’s) brother is doing better! The girls and I have been sad about my brother-in-law’s situation but we’ve been having a blast together, with many giggles while we await J’s return. In the meantime, I wanted post about something J and I discussed just before she found out her brother was in a coma and had to leave. But first…

Do you struggle to find fulfillment?

When I was a believer, I felt a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose in my time on Earth. I knew my future lay in designing software tools to help myself and others increase and live-out their faith. Since then I’ve been deeply interested in imagining myself at the end of life, looking back and taking stock of which things I’m glad I spent my time on vs other things that I wish I hadn’t. Life seems more real, precious, and fleeting now. That has as much to do with having children that I know will eventually suffer and die (likely without me by their side) and my recent focus on metacognition as it does on spiritual matters and a loss of confidence in eternity.

Time is a most precious resource and I desperately want to use it wisely (to find that minimal set of things which satisfies my soul’s purpose, or at least my mind’s estimate of such). In addition to time with my amazing wife and children, which is always well-spent, I’ve been in a deep struggle to find that right choice of career alignment – the optimal challenge and purpose that drives enthusiasm and productivity towards a noble cause – one that’s practical, within my skill-set, and in-line with interests. On the list are many things ranging from teaching STEM in high-school or college to going back for a PhD to further science in some small corner of one or more of the intersections of theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, software simulation, genetics, math, biomechanical engineering, the philosophy of science, or some subspecialty of physics.

I’m certainly not claiming to possess the mental prowess to accomplish these goals or do them well, but I know my interests. I love learning for its own intrinsic value, and I’m not afraid of difficult challenges if they align with my goals and provide time and support for my family. Your goals will vary, but I wonder if you feel like your on the right track or if, like me, your looking for something more.

Do you know your personality type?

My work and family life, with J (CC) in medical school, doesn’t allow time for further education at the moment. However, I also have a list of things that require no further formal degrees yet seem very fulfilling. I’ve sifted through many and found very few that my future self might deem to have been more valuable than extra time with my children.

In my research I recently came across a test similar to one I’d taken about 15 years ago. It is a modified version of the Myers Briggs test – the old one was over 100 questions but this one was much shorter and took less than 5 minutes to complete. I took it because I wanted to see if the results could help me narrow in on some subset of my possible career or hobby deviations that would be more natural for my personality than others. After taking the test, the descriptions of my personality type were shocking in their accuracy. I recognize that confirmation bias plays a role here, but other personality types do not describe me as well. This isn’t astrology.

I did learn a few things to think about when considering my future goals. I actually have an idea of what to do next. Perhaps I’ll share that another time. Something at least as important came out of the test. I learned about my wife and she learned a little more about me. I’ve since ask her, Howie, Vance (aka Toad), and Vance’s spouse to take the test and I’ve learned quite a bit about them as well.

The main reason for this post is to learn more about you. One of the primary goals of the blog is to increase our understanding of ourselves, one another, and the universe (any deities included). The hope is that understanding will lead to compassion and love. Personality type tools are not perfect and some people don’t like being put into such a box. They can be useful though, and I think they’re worth a shot. Only you can determine if they’re accurate for you or not.

My wife and I have learned quite a bit about each other through reading the details about our types that relates to how we tend to handle our careers, relationships, friendships, parenting styles, and the overall strengths and weaknesses that accompany our personalities. Also, after reading about INTJ’s (my wife did not get this type) I now understand how some people can be strong atheists – something I had trouble accepting before. That personality type seems particularly capable of such reasoning.

Personality may be correlated with belief in a higher power

The other intriguing reason for this post is a question based on a pronouncement made by one of the sites that interprets the personality type results. It says my main personality type, INTP (read about it here or here), is:

one of the types least likely to believe in a higher spiritual power

I googled INTP’s (my main personality type) to see if many of them believed in a higher power. The main answers I saw were from Reddit threads, and I think these say more about the base-rate of the Reddit audience concerning religion than they do about the general population of INTPs and faith. However, very few INTP’s held a religious belief on those threads.

My wife, however, has a personality type that is:

most likely of all types to believe in a higher spiritual power

You can probably complete the test in less than 5 minutes by opening this link.

Once you’re done, check out what your results means by clicking here and here, and then please drop back by and comment. We’d all benefit from learning more about each other. I’m specifically curious about the following:

  1. What type did you get and do you feel the descriptions in the links above are fairly accurate for you?
  2. Do you believe in a higher power? Some descriptions discuss this and I’m interested to see if there is a general correlation between personality and faith in the readers of our blog.

I’ll go first.

  1. INTP (with INFP as a close second) – yes, they seem accurate, especially INTP.
  2. INTP says I’m among those least likely to believe in a higher spiritual power. I don’t hold a positive belief in a higher power but I’m still drawn to the idea and searching for one.

This goes for you, too, Pascal! I can’t wait to learn more about you my friend! 🙂

Gentleness and respect,
–Russell