Tag Archives: Thrill-Seeking

ISIS murders two thrill-seeking millennials who were cycling across the Middle East

It turns out that the world is a dangerous place after all
It turns out that the world is a dangerous place after all

I saw this interesting article about a man and woman who decided to quit their “boring” public sector “jobs” and cycle through Africa and then through the Middle East. In this post, I want to focus on their worldviews, how people responded to the news of their deaths, and on why women are so attracted to men who don’t lead them, don’t protect them, and don’t provide for them.

PJ Media reports:

On August 7, the New York Times ran a story by Rukmini Callimachi about Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, a young American couple, both graduates of Georgetown University, who decided to quit their humdrum office jobs and go on an epic bike ride and camping trip that would take them all over the world. “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige,” Austin wrote. “I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned.”

I couldn’t find anywhere that said what their degrees were in, but I expect that they did easy non-STEM degrees and were swimming in debt. Rather than work their way out of it, they decided to quit their jobs and go on an adventure through Africa and the Middle East, to prove to the world that evil was not real, and that all the liberal nonsense they learned in school was true.

More:

They biked through Kyrgyzstan and entered Tajikistan. It was in that country that their journey came to an abrupt end this past July 29, when five ISIS members deliberately plowed their car into the two adventurers, killing them…

The plan they had chosen involved pointless risk-taking:

Austin, a vegan who worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Geoghegan, a vegetarian who worked in a college admissions office, were both 29 years old – old enough, one would think, to have some idea of just how dangerous a route they had mapped out. A number of the countries they passed through are considered either “not free” or “partly free” by Freedom House. In several of them, it’s not uncommon for roving criminal gangs – or, for that matter, police or soldiers or border officials – to rob, rape, or kill innocent travelers without provocation and with total impunity… Other perils include wild carnivores, extreme weather, unsanitary food preparation, and substandard medical care.

Now the first thing that pops out to me about this was “where are the woman’s parents?” and then second “why did this woman choose this man, given that men have a role of protecting women?” But, you see, parents these days are terrified of telling their daughters “NO”, and women like Lauren are very attracted to men who want to take them on “adventures”, instead of marrying them and providing for them and their children. Adventures are desirable because there are no responsibilities or obligations. You get to show off to your boring friends how special you are, and how much fun you’re having.

Let’s take a close look at Austin’s worldview, which Geoghegan found so attractive:

“With…vulnerability,” he wrote, “comes immense generosity: good folks who will recognize your helplessness and recognize that you need assistance in one form or another and offer it in spades.”

[…]But to read Austin’s blog is to see no hint of hesitation, on the part of either of them, to keep on cycling – no sign of fear that their luck might run out at any moment. Their naivete is nothing less than breathtaking. “You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” wrote Austin during their trek. “People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted….I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own.”

This was a man who did not have an accurate view of the world. He had enormous confidence in his own opinions, and he didn’t bother informing himself with anything that would have contradicted his optimism. He was reckless and dangerous. And yet his “lack of fear” must have been very attractive to a woman who didn’t want to “waste” her youth on responsibilities and obligations. She preferred his happy sounding words to any real demonstrated ability as a man. He didn’t have a plan for her future. All he had to offer was fun and thrills in the moment, and that’s what she chose. And I’m certain that if things had continued, they would have broken up the relationship the minute that either of them had to fulfill some obligation that they didn’t feel like doing.

And how did this arrogant, reckless optimism work out for him and his girlfriend?

Even before Austin and Geoghegan met their untimely end, they had problems. In Namibia, Geoghegan picked up a stomach virus. (As Austin wrote on his blog: “she curls into the fetal position and rests, eyes closed, fighting chills and nausea and fatigue. There’s little that we can do at the moment. I give her some ibuprofen.” Whereupon they resume biking.) Also in Namibia, they were almost hit by a car while bicycling along a highway. In Botswana, they both got sick. In Zambia, Austin had a serious bike crash that sent him flying and left him bleeding all over. In Malawi, he got malaria. In Tanzania, a man tried to bully him into forking over some money. In Ceuta, a driver tried to run him over, and another rear-ended him. In Spain, Geoghegan got conjunctivitis. In Marseilles, she had to be hospitalized for an ear infection that had rendered her deaf. Given the dangers they braved, indeed, they were fortunate to have made it as far as Tajikistan.

Is this what a man is now? Someone who recklessly risks the life of a woman? Why doesn’t he get a real STEM degree, get a real private sector job, and buy her a real house that she can feel safe in? Because this isn’t what women are looking for today. They want fun and thrills and adventure. They push away men who try to get them to behave responsibly, and they put their trust in men who tell them what they want to hear: that they should follow their heart. And no one has anything to say about it. We tell young women that they are right to value fun and thrills and adventures. We tell young women that they are right to choose irresponsible bad boys who give them all the feelings.

The secular left was very supportive of what Austin did to his girlfriend:

The Times article about Austin and Geoghegan drew hundreds of reader comments. A surprising number were by other people who’d bicycled or backpacked in far-off, dangerous places. Most saw Austin and Geoghegan as “heroic,” “authentic,” “idealistic,” “inspiring,” “a Beautiful example of Purity and Light.” Sample reactions: “Their candle burned brightly before it was extinguished.” And: “Good for them! They followed their dream.” Then there’s this: “I only see the beauty of two people taking steps to live the life they envision….The good experienced in their journey far far outweighs any negative.” Easy to say when you’re not the one in the body bag. “What is more dangerous,” asked yet another reader, “exposing yourself to the world and its dangers, and living a full vivid life, or insulating yourself in a safe box, in front of screens, where the world and its marvels and dangers cannot touch you? Jay and Lauren understood that safety is its own danger. They are awesome people.”

He was a bad leader, and he led her into a disaster. But that’s what she wanted, and everyone is celebrating what a great man he was.

No one is taking responsibility for letting it happen:

Her parents, Robert and Elvira Geoghegan, said in a statement that her trip “was typical of her enthusiastic embrace of life’s opportunities, her openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world.”

[…]Santovasco, Austin’s mother, said her son and his girlfriend were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“For them to be in this one place where they decided to kill people is unfathomable to us,” she said.

These days, it’s very fashionable for people to want to follow their hearts. Many people who believe in God don’t really think about how to deny themselves in order to serve God. They think that it’s God’s job to sort of guarantee that they will be happy if they focus on their own desires. All they have to do is be reckless in their decisions, and have no fear, and God will make them fabulously happy. What the story of Austin and Geoghegan tells us is that hedonism is actually a secular life plan. Christians should not be doing things like that with their lives.

Unmarried 34-year-old woman vows to change shark into loving, faithful husband by hand-feeding him raw meat

Melissa Brunning dispenses advice and posts exotic selfies on her page “Wild and Free”

Melissa Brunning is a 34-year-old unmarried woman who operates a Facebook page called “Wild and Free“. On that page, she posts inspirational quotes about travel, fun, following your heart, as well as pictures from all her exotic vacations. The “about” section of the (public) page says “My mission is to inspire others to break free from 9-5 & live LIFE on their terms, to be WILD and FREE to follow their dreams, to explore & go on adventure”.

Here is her philosophy in one photo:

Life is too short to waste time listening to wise people
Life is too short to waste time listening to people with demonstrated ability and success

Anyway, you can look at all the selfies of her with her cat, her bikinis, etc. on her personal Facebook page. The reason for this post is because Melissa met a new guy on Match.com. He has everything that she wants. He’s tall. He’s strong. He’s smooth. He has really great teeth. And most importantly, he gives the impression that he could really lose his temper at any minute and attack other men violently. Melissa is sure that she can get around that problem somehow, though. Although the man lived 1500 miles away from her, this was no problem, because Melissa loves to travel, and  this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime exotic adventure!

The West Australian reported on her date:

Melissa Brunning was on a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip cruising the majestic Kimberley on a friend’s superyacht, so when an opportunity arose to feed a placid shark she was scared, but her adventurous spirit willed her to give it a go.

But it all ended in a freak shark bite incident that left the Perth woman grateful she didn’t lose a finger.

The last of her friends to try feeding the three to four Tawny nurse sharks hanging around the back of the boat, what Ms Brunning didn’t realise until it was too late was that she shouldn’t hand feed the 2m shark, rather place the piece of fish in front of her and watch it go by and suck it up.

With a suction “like a Hoover”, the shark sucked Ms Brunning’s right index finger into its mouth full of rows of razor sharp teeth.

Mobile phone footage filmed by a friend of the incident at the end of May shows Ms Brunning screaming as she’s pulled from the back of the boat into the croc-infested water as the shark swims off.

Oh no! The hot alpha male bad boy ate her food, bit her, and swam away without even leaving his phone number. Typical whale! Er, I mean shark. It wasn’t her fault! There was no way to predict from his appearance that he would become violent and unfaithful. It was the shark’s fault – he lied to her. He presented himself as kind and sweet. The shark’s toxic masculinity was clearly to blame. #Patriarchy #MeToo

Melissa is quoted in the article about the break-up with the sharp-looking thug: “We’re not meant to be in the water, if we were we’d have gills.” It was a love not meant to be. But while in the hospital getting taxpayer-funded health care for the “unexpected” result of her irrational choices, a nurse gave her the phone number of a hot looking crocodile who was just being released from prison. Maybe things will work out with him? At least her friends will be envious if she posts a selfie with him.

You can have a lot of fun reading the inspirational quotes on her Wild and Free page, and even more fun if you insert something about trying to hand feed a shark into each one.

Here are some:

  • When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life
  • Take every chance you get in life because some things only happen once
  • Life is an adventure, dare it
  • Live in the moment
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  • If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try
  • Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing
  • Be crazy, be stupid, be silly, be weird, be whatever – because life is too short to be anything but happy

I think the common denominator here is this glorification of thrill seeking and fun, at the expense of having a slow, deliberate plan that achieves a real result. When your sole purpose in life is to have good feelings, it becomes impossible to exercise self-control for the sake of something higher, like serving God. The pattern of always choosing self, self, self becomes impossible to break.

This sort of thrill-seeking lifestyle works when you’re young and pretty, but it doesn’t really set you up for success in the last 50 years of your life. A woman needs to use her pre-marriage time wisely. She needs to train up her wife and mother skills, and develop patience and maturity by doing hard things. She has to train herself to keep commitments if her marriage is to last. A stable marriage requires her to get comfortable with self-sacrifice. She has to train her character to be content with stability. She needs to stop seeking thrills and learn how to delay gratification.

I am seeing this attitude of hers a lot in young Christian women. There doesn’t seem to be much of a vision for marriage and family being taught to women today. Women don’t see Christianity as something that overrides their pleasure-seeking and self-centeredness. Instead, they just sing praise hymns, read devotionals, listen to Joyce Meyer’s prosperity gospel sermons, and focus on themselves. Nutrition, fitness and travel are all good, but they cannot be the main things in life for an authentic Christian.

Christians should be concerned with God’s reputation and God’s goals. Christians are meant to serve God, not themselves. Christians have to do what works for God, like apologetics. There is no such thing as a Christian whose Facebook and Instagram page celebrates “self-love”, thrill-seeking, exotic vacations, etc. A real Christian always does what works to serve God. Jesus was good at self-denial and self-control. He was obedient to God even when it cost him his life. He didn’t go on exotic vacations and do pointless, risky things to get fun and thrills.

If you missed my previous post on radical feminists turning to mermen to get around the problem of “toxic masculinity” in normal men, then be sure to read that.

Christian case maker warns Christians to trust the evidence, not their feelings

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Alisa Childers posted a review of a recent dialog between Dr. Sean McDowell and former-Christian Bart Campolo, son of far-left progressive fake Christian Tony Campolo. The dialog occurred on the Unbelievable radio show.

Here’s an exerpt from Alisa’s review:

Recently, the two came together to have a discussion on Premier Christian Radio entitled, “Why Bart Lost His Faith, Why Sean Kept His.” It was a fascinating discussion, and the thing that most struck me was the reason they each gave for having become a Christian in the first place. Campolo described how he converted to Christianity after finding a youth group he connected with and attending one of their retreats:

There’s hundreds of kids there. It’s Saturday night, there’s candlelight and firelight and everybody’s singing “Our God is an Awesome God,” and “We Love You Lord.” And in the midst of that kind of environment I had what I guess you would call a transcendent moment…I felt something. It felt like there was something happening  in that room that was bigger than the group. I felt like I was connecting to something. And in that moment ….that was God.

I heard something. It was real to me. People that don’t believe in transcendent experiences—I always think like, “You haven’t been to the right concert… You haven’t used the right drugs. You haven’t fallen in love with the right partner.”

These experiences are real, and I think whatever narrative you’re in when you have one, it confirms that narrative. If I would have had that same transcendent moment with my friends in a mosque in Afghanistan, it would have confirmed Islam to me. But I was in the Christian world, so from that point on, Jesus was real to me.

In Campolo’s own words, he became a  Christian because of a transcendent experience….a feeling that resonated deeply in his heart.

He had a feeling, and he took that feeling as a reason for believing propositional claims about the external world. God’s existence? He had a feeling. Christ’s resurrection? He had a feeling. The reliability of the Bible? He had a feeling. Instead of focusing on truth, he spent his early life pursuing social justice. He didn’t look at evidence, he just tried to have experiences. He tried to chase feelings by having little Christian ministry adventures. Missions trips. Volunteer work. Community. Charismatic speaking to crowds about things he knew literally nothing about.

Further on in the dialog, he explains that his standard for allegiance is not truth, it’s literally “what works”. And he clarifies “what causes [people] to thrive, what causes [people] to flourish”. His emphasis (in his ministry) was always on feeling good by being nice to people, because they liked him. This perspective is rampant in the evangelical church, especially among progressive young people. The idea of testing the Christian worldview against science and history to see if it is true is absolutely out. Instead, it’s all about feeling good and making people like you by being nice to them.

Experiences made him an atheist. He worked with poor people, and he decided that God didn’t exist because he wasn’t making these people happy. He had gay roommates in college, so he decided that the Bible’s rules around sexual morality had to be wrong. Never any investigation of economics to understand poverty, no investigation of homosexuality in the peer-reviewed literature, etc. It was feelings all the way. A bit later, Campolo extols the virtue of blind faith, and blasts apologetics as ineffective at changing minds. And then later, he has a bicycle crash, and he becomes convinced from that accident that “this life is all we have”. So he disproved substance dualism, which is consistent with the Bible and supported by multiple lines of philosophical argumentation and experimental evidence… by having feelings about a bicycle crash.

Now, on this blog, we despise feelings and experiences. We discuss scientific evidence for a Creator and a Designer all the time. The origin of the universe, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, the habitality requirements, etc. For Campolo, Christianity was never about truth, and so he never conducted an investigation about whether it was true. The only God he would accept was a god who “worked for him” – who made him feel good, and who made people (including non-Christians) like him. It was all about him, never about adjusting himself to an objective reality that might have involved obedience to God, having some bad feelings, and being disliked by non-Christians.

The more emphasis that a person places on feelings, intuitions, travel, adventure, and social justice, the farther away they tend to be from analytical philosophy, historical investigation, scientific evidence, etc. You cannot establish the truth of a worldview by going on a missions trip to Haiti, or by holding orphans in Bolivia. The truth of Christianity is known through study of reality, using logic, science and historical analysis. Making feelings the foundation for a worldview is just a disaster waiting to happen.

Alisa has some words of caution to young Christians and their parents about experience as the root of a Christian worldview:

  1. You can be talked out of an experience.
  2. Your heart and feelings lie.
  3. You can fall back on evidence in times of doubt or suffering.

Here is number 2:

The prophet Jeremiah described the human heart as “deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” Proverbs 3:5-7 tells us not to “lean on our own understanding.” Jesus described the human heart as being filled with thoughts like murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. Proverbs 28:26 tells us that whoever trusts his own mind is a fool.

In other words, do not, under any circumstances, follow your heart.

This, of course, stands in stark contrast to the themes we are constantly encountering in entertainment and on social media. However, when it comes to spiritual beliefs, trusting our hearts and following our feelings can lead to all sorts of aberrant theology, sinful choices, and a distortion of true Christian faith.

See that?

“In other words, do not, under any circumstances, follow your heart.”

We need more Christians saying this in the church. Especially Christian women – it’s better when women put evidence at the center of the Christian life, and push feelings out to the edges.

By the way, she mentions a quotation from J. Warner Wallace about not being a Christian because “it works for me“. I wrote a whole post about this.

If you want to read another deconversion story that shows how a focus on feelings and experiences leads to atheism, check out the story of Dan Barker. I know so many people who were raised in the church by pastors who were anxious to “protect” Christian truth claims from  being proved or disproved by evidence. They thought that their approach was more pious – how dare we let science and history stand in judgment over the Bible? When I look at Dan Barker and Bart Campolo, I can see where that fideism ended up. Piety is a cheap way of gaining respect without having done any work. We need to demand better from pastors. They ought to be able to show their work. They ought to be able to demonstrate what reasoning and evidence led them to their convictions. Not their feelings and experiences, but actual reasoning and evidence.

The sooner we get to the point where Christianity is true because of reason and evidence, regardless of individual feelings, the better off we will be at being authentic followers of Jesus.

Finally, if you liked the Unbelievable show dialog between McDowell and Campolo, there is a 3-hour discussion on the same topic, which was held at the Faith Beyond Belief conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada last week. The video has been posted on YouTube.

Positive arguments for Christian theism