Little Thoughts: Acknowledging Modesty

Thank you for not dressing to reveal yourself to the world.

My boyfriend said this to me yesterday.  We were at a local amusement park for the day, and in front of us in line, was a young-ish girl (maybe 16 or 17) wearing a shirt that revealed her entire bra.  I was actually rather taken back by how many women and girls were scantily dressed.  I saw more bras, cleavage, butt cheeks, and body parts yesterday, than I did my entire high school career.

I was wearing a college t-shirt, jean capris, and sneakers.  And even when we were in the water park, my body was covered. While we were in line, with this girl and her boyfriend (who couldn’t keep his hands off her, I might add) in front of us, my boyfriend pulled me close, and whispered that in my ear.

I grinned like a freaking fool.

See, here’s the thing; I dress modestly.  I know I have the choice to dress however I want, but I know that what makes me attractive and appealing, isn’t how much skin I reveal. I know my body is attractive to men, simply because I am a woman.  I know men are visual creatures, and I know I want to respect men and not put them in awkward or uncomfortable positions.  There have been times when I’ve worn a shirt not thinking anything of it, and my brothers or other guys I trust, have told me that the shirt was making them uncomfortable.  And guess what? I have incredible respect and appreciation for men that do that, because it makes me aware of the consequences of the clothing I choose to wear.

My boyfriend tells me all the time not only how beautiful how I am, but how smart he thinks I am.  He compliments my writing, and engages in my philosophical ideas.  He encourages my adventurous spirit and he challenges my relationship with God.  He doesn’t make me feel like I need to reveal myself to him, to be worthy of his attention.  And, the cool thing is, he acknowledges my modesty.  He acknowledges how I dress, and by doing so, he’s showing me how much he cares about me.  He knows I could dress however I wanted, but it makes my heart happy to know he appreciates my modesty.

My question to you is this: when did we stop caring about modesty? When did we stop caring about how the other sex reacts to exposed skin?  When did we stop respecting each other, and acknowledging that how we dress and what we choose to expose, has an effect on our primal instincts?  And, when did we stop imparting the importance of modesty on the younger generations?

Personally, I think modesty is hand in hand with respect.  I dress modestly, because I respect and acknowledge the undeniable fact that men are visual beings.  I dress modestly because I respect myself, and I don’t need body parts hanging out to feel good about myself, or to think I am attractive.

Also, and this could easily become another post, but to put it plainly – ladies, if you don’t want to be lusted after, put some clothes on.  Naked girls tend to end up in Playboy.  And, really, guys?  Girls are visual too, so if you don’t want to be lusted after, put some clothes on.  Naked guys tend to end up in Cosmopolitan. 

But I guess, to tie this all up, modesty goes a long way.  You don’t need to show off your body to be attractive.  Guys (and girls) do appreciate modesty.  And there’s something really cool, when people you deeply care about, acknowledge your modesty.

Ciao for now,

Julia

Let’s Talk About Health …..

My senior year of high school, one of my teachers showed the class Food, IncI was fascinated by the story and at the same time, I was intrigued by the obscurity and the bureaucracy in the food industry.  It amazed me how many secrets were being kept from the general public about their food.

Then, a few months ago, I watched Super Size MeThat particular documentary, I believe, should be shown in school health classes; it’s that powerful.  It showcases the horribly detrimental effects of fast food and poor diet on the body.

Tonight, on a rare Saturday off work, I watched What the HealthThis show, released this year, focuses on the correlation between meat and diary, and the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  This show, like the others, tried to present the audience with an idea of how shady big, governmentally endorsed food companies are.  It also began to stress the power of a plant-based diet.

Now.  I generally take documentaries like this with a grain of salt.  I know that such documentaries generally have some type of agenda, or maybe even a political aim.  But I always like that these shows make me think.  I think it’s really important to think about what I’m eating, particularly if it has the potential to have a very negative effect on my long term health.  And I think shows that expose some type of ugly truth about the food industry, even in a small way, should be viewed.

As someone interested in conducting research, I had a few issues with this show.  The narrator used Google a lot, and relied on the studies that fit his confirmation bias.  I never quite got the sense that he had a good understanding of the study he was quoting.  And at times, he used only one study to make a ridiculous claim.  At one point, the president of the American Diabetes Association called him out on the studies he was using, questioning whether they had been truly peer reviewed.  Like I said, however, I like this show because it made me think about food, and the impact it has on my health.

I’m going to be real here. Being healthy is my goal.  I strive to be the healthiest I can be.  Naturally, my diet tends to lean more vegetarian.  It’s not a conscious choice, just what my body naturally tends to enjoy the most.  I’m not lactose intolerant, but my body doesn’t really like diary products.  (I’ve been having issues with my stomach for some time.  It’s rather complicated, but I know for sure diary causes issues.). When I’m buying food, I tend to gravitate towards food that I know have a significantly decreased chance of hurting my stomach, and these foods tend to be organic, gluten-free, and diary free products.  I really enjoying detoxing my body, and re-starting it’s natural ability to function well.  My mom and I are getting ready to do a second round of the Whole 30 diet, because we really liked how we felt during the first round.

I could never ever go completely vegan or vegetarian.  Don’t get me wrong; I have a lot of issues with the food industry.  But, honestly, I like Five Guys and homemade ice cream too much.  However, I feel I could comfortably go four or five days out of seven vegetarian.  I feel powerful and strong when my body feels healthy.  And for me, with my genetics and biology, healthy is when I’m eating less meat, less diary, less carb and less sugar.  Plus, even prior to watching this documentary, I had decided I was going to be as self-sufficient as possible when I have my own place.  I plan on having a garden full of my own, home-grown, fruits and veggies and herbs.  I plan on making my own bread on a regular basis, and eating healthy as much as possible.

If it’s true the food we eat has an impact on our genetics, then I want to do all I can to decrease the certain diseases and illnesses in my genetics.  There is a chance for heart issues, and five women in my family have battled cancer.  They have survived, but the risk is still present.  And if I’m already having issues with my stomach, I don’t want to make it worse by making poor food choices.  It’s important to me that I take care of myself, both for my present and my past.

This documentary does bring up some interesting point, and things I would like to further investigate.  Is there truly a connection between meat and diary, and cancer/diabetes/heart issues?  Why are major food companies so secretive?  Why is the health of our food, and the impact it has on our bodies, not a bigger concern? 

Ciao for now,

Julia

Survey: Modesty

I’ve created another survey!  This time, I am interested in examining how modesty has an impact on single or unmarried men, predominately Christian men.  All answers are kept completely anonymous, I promise!  I do ask, though, as there is space to explain each answer, that you do so.  I’d like this post to be a collection of responses, not just statistics. If this interests you, please follow this link: Modesty.

Thank you all very much!!

P.S. If possible, could you pass this on to your friends? That would be great too!Survey

 

Religion and Politics: Survey Results

*I want to dedicate this post to every single person who completed my survey.  Your responses helped me test my hypotheses, and understand the relationship between religion and politics.  I am forever grateful to every single one of you.  Thank you.*

I started this study with the aim to analyze the connection between religious beliefs and political beliefs.  I was interested to see if the strength of one set of beliefs influenced the strength of the other.  This was my main hypothesis.  However, as I began compiling my survey, I became curious of other variables, and their effects.  Did age play a role?  What about gender?  If someone isn’t religious, does that impact which political party they most agree with?  Does different religious beliefs affect politics?  Does religious beliefs influence more conservative or more liberal beliefs?  And finally, does the amount of time one set of beliefs was held, impact the other?

I believed these variables would be statistically significant (important, statistically unique, different than normal).  I thought the stronger someone believed one set of beliefs, the stronger the other set of beliefs would be.  For example, I thought that if a Christian held very strong beliefs, they would also be a very strong, conservative Republican.  (This was based on prior observations and patterns.).  I thought age and gender played a role in each set of beliefs, but I was unsure to that role.  I thought the type of religious belief, be it religious or non-religious, would have an impact, but I was unsure what that was.  And I thought people that had beliefs from their family for one belief, would hold the other for the same reason.

Several prior studies influenced my knowledge prior to analyzing the results.  For example, a study conducted by Driskell, Embry, and Lyon (2008) suggested that religious beliefs about an involved God and many world issues are significantly related to political participation on a national scale (Driskell, Embry & Lyon).  Another study conducted by Evans (2014) concluded that religious people tend to disagree in terms of political policies, but they have the tendency to agree with the process of reaching those policies (Evans).  Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz (2015) concluded that society functions the best when people follow traditional values, and also was able to conclude that individuals tend to interpret religion as an important guide for one’s life (Friesen and Ksiazkiewicz).  Fitzgerald and Wickwire (2012) were able to conclude that people of specific religious and political groups tend to favor, or express more trust towards others of the same groups (Fitzgerald and Wickwire).  Finally, Meyer, Tope, and Price (2008) concluded that nations of people who tend to be strongly religious are less favorable towards democracy (Meyer, Top & Price).

A total of 193 people responded to my survey.  However, of the responses, 20 responses were discarded.  These responses did not meet all the criteria, such as being 18 or older, or not providing all information.  (All the surveys were completed.  However, 18 of the 20 responses chose not to specify their religious affiliation.  This was an optional spot, but was a factor I was interested in examining.). I chose 18 as the minimal age, because in America, that is the age when teenagers are allowed to vote.  The vast majority of participants were female and between the ages of 18-30.

Of the participants who identified as religious, the vast majority specified their beliefs as “Christian” (non-denominational/ denominational).  However, I also received responses such as “Catholic”, “Spiritual”, “Norse”, “Methodist”, “Mennonite”, “Christo-pagan”, “Baptist”, “Lutheran”, “Jewish”, “Former Mormon”, and even “Catholic with Celtic beliefs”.  Of those that identified as non-religious, the most common responses were “Agnostic” and “Atheist”.

Politically, I asked participants which political party they most aligned with, and then asked them to place themselves on a conservative/liberal scale.  I was interested to see if religious beliefs affected that ranking.

When gathering the responses, I was really focused on not getting a biased sample, such as too many millennials, or too many Christians, or too many Republicans, etc.  (Given where I live, those would have been the most likely biases.). So, I placed my survey on my Facebook page, and thus it was shared by many of my friends.  I also linked it in several of my blog posts.  Finally, I asked one of my previous professors to pass it out to his students.  The responses were kept completely anonymous, apart from asking for age and gender.

I was expecting my sample to slightly biased, with more Republican Christians.  However, I was surprised to find that the split between Republican and Democrat beliefs to be rather equal.

When I had finished analyzing my results, I was disappointed to find my hypotheses were generally not statistically significant. *I’ll apologize here: I seem to have deleted the file with all my graphs and whatnot.  So, unfortunately, I am unable to share with you any of the visual data.*. The strength between religious beliefs and political beliefs was not statistically significant. (For those of you interested, r=-.087.). This was fascinating to me, as I could see participants of similar religious beliefs rating the strength of that belief very high, but then ranking their political beliefs differently and opposite ends of the spectrum.  Also, I saw many responses where on set of beliefs was ranked high, and the other was ranked low.

The effects between “religious and political beliefs” and “gender” were not statistically significant, and neither was the interaction between them.  This was interesting, because based on previous patterns and observations, I expected females to be more religious, but also slightly more liberal.

When I analyzed the interaction between “religious beliefs”, “political beliefs”, and “age”, the interaction was not statistically significant.  However, when I analyzed the main effect of “religious beliefs” on “age”, this was statistically significant.  (For those interested, F (4, 170)= 2.76, p = .03, and h2 = 0.024.).

Finally, I analyzed the relationship between “religious beliefs” and “political beliefs”.  This correlation was mildly statistically significant (r = .19 at p = .013).  This was interesting, because it demonstrated there is indeed a relationship between “religious beliefs” and “political beliefs”.

*Unfortunately, I did not quite get the chance to analyze all the varied variables I wanted to, such as the different types of beliefs against political beliefs, or how long those beliefs were held against the strength of the beliefs.  If I have the chance to re-do this study, I would fine tune the variables I want to explore.  I made the mistake of adding more and more “variables” as my study went on.  I didn’t start with a strict set of things to investigate, and I think that is why so many of potentially interesting insights were ignored.  I ran out of time, and to a degree, resources, thus negatively effecting the validity of my results.*

I think, overall, this study brings some really interesting things to light.  For example, I began to understand that the interpretation of religious texts is often more impactful than just the religious beliefs.  There were participants who were nearly identical in religious beliefs and in their belief strength (sometimes even in age and gender), but completely opposite in terms of political beliefs and conservative/liberal ranking.  (I may even be so bold as to say that it is this split in interpretation that is leading to the split in Christians today …… corresponding blog post to come …..)

Also, it is also possible that race, economic status, and living environment (rural, city, urban, etc.) further impact the relationship between religious and political beliefs.

———————

I had quite a lot of fun organizing this study, analyzing the results, and understanding real life applications.  It has opened the door to many other questions I would like to pursue, and may at some point.

I’d love to know your thoughts about these results.  Do you think there is a bigger connection between religious beliefs and political beliefs?  Or do you think it’s smaller?


 

religion-in-politics

Ciao for now,

Julia

P.S. I am interested in do a post on modesty, but from guys’ perspectives.  If you are a single, or yet unmarried Christian guy, I’d be honored if you’d fill out this short questionnaire.  Please pass it around to your friends! I will be giving credit where credit is due! Thank you!

Religion.

This wasn’t the post I had planned for this morning.  I was actually going to write something very different.

But before settling down to write, I stumbled upon a video by SoulPancake.  Those of you that have been with me for awhile know I really like this organization, and I often look to their book for prompt ideas.  This particular video is titled “Do we need religion?”, and well, it made me happy.

As a Christian, I believe it is important to hear other people’s perspective on religion.  I think it is important to understand why they believe what they believe.

Do we need religion?

You know, I think human beings, in their very essence, desire something to put their faith into.  People put faith in science, in reason, in other people, even in the human race, and in god-like deities.  And its from that faith that religion is born.  I understand religion to be the act living out that faith, and doing life with other people with the same faith.

I am not a Christian because my parents are, or because my grandparents are.  I’m not a Christian because I’ve been going to a church my whole life.  I am a Christian because I, myself, have faith that Jesus Christ is who He says He is.  I am a Christian because I, myself, have faith that the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God.  And I am a Christian because I, myself, believe in God.

Like many of the people in the video, I believe that religion helps people make sense of their world, and it adds meaning to their life.  And I believe that religions helps anchor people.  My life has felt rather messy and out-of-control at times, and other people can be really quite mean about religion (particular Christianity).  And when I question and doubt, sometimes seriously, there is always some indescribable thing that calms my mind and heart, and guides me back.  My faith in God and living out my Christian religion always seems to re-balance and re-settle me.

And I am sure that is the same for every other religion.

The conversation of religion always opens the door for “right” and “wrong” labeling.  I know some Christians who are content to adamantly claim other religions (or lack thereof) are wrong, and are more than willing to say so.  This is not meant to be a theological discussion, or a lesson on evangelism.  But no one wants to be told what they believe is wrong; they stop listening to what you have to say.

Yes, as a Christian, I believe my faith is “right”, and I believe that there is ample enough proof, outside of the Bible.  But Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, even Agnostics and Atheists believe their faith (or ideologies) are “right”.  If they didn’t believe that, they wouldn’t have faith in it, right?

I believe in God, and at my former job, I have a friend who believes there is no God.  We know each other’s beliefs, but we are still friends.  I think this is so important, because at the end of the day, we are just trying to understand our world, all the horrible, tragic, and good.

In Christian teachings, we are supposed to bring unbelievers to God, but we are supposed to do it through love.  We believe our faith has eternal consequences, and if we ask you to come to church with us, it isn’t (mainly) because we think what you believe is wrong.  We ask you because we love you and care about you, and we want to spend eternity with you.  We pray for you, because we love you.  We do life with you, because we care about you.  And we share our faith with you because we want you to experience Heaven with us.

Do we need religion?

I think so.  I think religion gives us hope.  It gives us something to look to when life gets hard and bad things seem to press in from every side.  It gives us something to put our trust in when people do bad things.

I think we need religion because we need faith.

What do you think?

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. I apologized this felt rather unstructured.  These are my unfiltered thoughts.  Plus, the more I wrote, the more I realized I could probably split this topic into a few other posts.  We’ll see what happens.)

 

 

What happened to sin?

In church this morning, my pastor referenced a book titled Whatever became of sin? by Sean Fagan.  That title really caught my attention.  Coming hot off my Morality Problem post, with all that research still buzzing through my head, I was a tad caught off guard.  I wanted to say, “But Pastor Jerry, our culture is so sinful!”.  But then I listened to what he was truly saying.

He was saying that sin is more prevalent than ever, but it’s no longer called “sin”.  It’s reasoned away and labeled as something less negative.  Lying is evident on every stage and level, but hardly ever publicly punished.  Sexual immorality is now acceptable promiscuity (i.e. see modern music).  Lust is now Fifty Shades of Grey.  Adultery (i.e. cheating) is seen in popular movies, heard in popular songs, but not socially condemned.  Abortion, though never outright labeled as a sin, goes directly against God’s teachings, but many Christians continue to condone this practice.  And, because I am a Christian and believe the Bible is God’s living breathing Word, I believe homosexuality is a sin.  And, in modern culture, it is accepted and boldly broadcast.

What happened to sin? Modern culture’s desire not to offend anyone, or make anyone feel bad for their actions, that’s what.

Sin was big enough to turn the young world on it’s head, but today, we insist on minimizing it into a label for actions.  But the thing is, when we minimize sin, we minimize God and the incredible power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

And the sad thing is, people today seem so focused on themselves and other people.  This even includes Christians.  They want to seem like “good” people, and “good” Christians.  They want to fight for equality, justice, tolerance, love, and a whole host of other (wonderful) things.  But being a Christian isn’t about the world, or the world’s problems.  Yes, as Christians, we are called to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).  We are supposed to love our earthly brothers and sisters as our own flesh.  But in terms of the Great Commandments, this is only second.  The greatest and most important commandment of all is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:29-31)Being a Christian is about God. Plain and simple.  It’s about loving Him, praising Him, adoring Him, and desiring to please Him.  And the biggest thing that separates us from God is …. wait for it …. sin. 

How can we form a relationship with God, if we can’t acknowledge our sins, if we don’t know what they are?  As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m struggling to come up with examples of sins that non-Christians would understand, besides the obvious “Don’t kill”, Don’t steal”, etc.  Why is this?  Is it because sin truly isn’t talked about?  And if that’s the case, why doesn’t that shake us to our God-loving souls?

What happened to sin?  What happened to our world that sin became explainable?  What happened to us that we let sin get this way?

Sin, as ironic as it is, is so crucial to our relationship with God.  It is because of sin that we need God’s overwhelming grace.  And it’s because of sin that Jesus died for us.  Without sin, suddenly, Jesus’ sacrifice becomes nothing.  And as I’m typing that out, I suddenly feel like crying, because His sacrifice is everything.

In order for us know God and love Him, we need to admit we have sinned and “fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  As Christians, we need to admit we have sinned.  But that is so hard, and all but impossible, when sin is apart of mainstream culture.

And because we are called to “be fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-20), and bring our friends here on earth to God, we need to be able to point out sins.  We need to be able to tell someone (gently, of course) that what they’ve done is wrong.  It’s like guiding a child’s behavior; you have to point out their bad behavior so they can learn and grow.  If we reason away every type of behavior and not tell anyone that they’ve done anything wrong, how does anyone learn and grow?  And if we don’t equip anyone with the abilities to recognize that behavior in the future, what stops them from repeating it again?

The thing is, there is no salvation if there is no condemnation.  There is no good without bad.  There is no redemptive grace without sin.  So what happened to sin?

Churches, why don’t you talk about sin anymore?  Yes, I know it’s talk about it in Sunday School classes and you mention it in the services and sermons.  But can everyone that attends your church provide an explanation/example of sin?  Christians, why don’t we acknowledge sin anymore?  Why are we so quick to thank God and to praise Him, but less quick to admit our sins?  And Christians, why are we so hesitant to stand up against sins in our world?  Or rather, why are we so quick to explain it away?

And sometimes, Christians, standing against sin means standing against other people and telling them they are wrong.  Sometimes, fighting against sin means, maybe, being seen as intolerant or unfair or unloving.  But that’s when we have to weigh what is more important to us.  Because we can’t be Christians without sin, and we can’t fight for Christ if we aren’t willing to stand against sin.  Because Christianity isn’t “love-centered”, “people-centered”, or “world-centered”; Christianity is “God-centered”.

The existence of sin is a daily reminder of how much we need God.  We are a fallen people, fallen from the blameless, Garden of Eden existence, and fallen into a world of actions and desires that upset God.  It all makes full circle here, because being a Christian is about desiring to please God, and sin displeases God, so we should desire not to sin, right?  Obviously, yes.  But what is sin?  How does it apply to culture and society?  And now we’re back to the beginning with asking what happened to sin. 

I have several friends who are atheist/agnostic.  How am I to invite them to church and explain what sin is, if it’s become a part of modern culture, and modern Christian culture just brushes over it like it’s no big deal?

I think it’s time that Christians stop being afraid of coming across as “unfeeling”, “xenophobic”, “intolerant”, “unjust”, “hateful”, etc. I think it’s time to start talking about sin again.  I don’t want to whittle my God down anymore.  He is so incredibly big, and I think it’s time we re-acknowledge that sin is too.

What happened to sin? I don’t know, but I’m ready to see the conversation change.

Ciao for now,

Julia

what-is-sin

(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study.  My study is focused on the relationship between politics and religion.  I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!).  If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans).  So, if this is something you are interested in, you can find the survey here: Politics and Religion.  Thanks!! 🙂 )

 

 

Survey

Hey guys, this is going to be a real quick post, but I wanted to share something with you guys.  On the past couple posts, I’ve included a little snippet about a survey for one of my classes.  I had originally set it up so you guys could email me for the information, but I realized that wasn’t going to work.

So here we go, I’ve created a legit survey.  You no longer have to email me or anything; this time it is completely anonymous.  I figure that’s better haha.  You can find it here: Survey Monkey.

But if you truly are interested: Hey guys! For my Statistics this semester, I am required to conduct an experiment. I’m looking to analyze the relationship between the strength of religious beliefs and the strength of political beliefs. I’m organizing this study in the form of a survey, and I’m included the link here. If possible, after you’ve taken it, could you please pass it along to some of your friends?  That would be so awesome, thanks!!

It would be so awesome if you could answer these questions as honestly as you could! Thank-a kindly. 🙂

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. The survey will close the last week in April 2017.)

Survey