Posted in My past writing

Christianity Vs An Agnostic Kid

Hi readers,

From the article title, you may surmise that what follows in this post might be offensive or even biased. Which is probably true.

The following essay is the last one which I wrote for my Composition One class during the winter 2016 semester.

The subject is the contradictions and hypocrisy presented by typical Christianity in the United States. I say typical because some denominations are more religious and less hypocritical than others. I also say in the United States, because that’s where I live, so that is where I have observed hypocrisy and contradictions of various sorts among those of the Christian faith. I don’t pretend to know what Christians in other countries or those of other faiths might be like.

Also, just a note, as of March 2017 I am no longer an Agnostic, but a Satanist. I found a need to believe in and have a relationship with an entity, but I did not wish to choose anything which required agreeing with hurting others/killing in the name of the religion or which required a lot of ritualistic worship or heavy reliance on the use of magic. Spiritual Satanism fits my criteria to my satisfaction, so it is now my chosen religion.

Before you start thinking me a little crazy, I must explain that Satanism has been much misconstrued in popular culture, and there are those who have done awful things in the name of it. However, as a modern religion, Satanism is more about having a personal relationship with Satan or another Demon and taking care of oneself, including regarding many things which certain Christian sects see as “sin” as okay. For example, being gay and transgender is perfectly acceptable to a Satanist. Having multiple sexual partners, as long as all parties consent and safety measures are employed, is perfectly fine. However, killing an animal for any reason other than necessary food, killing another human for any reason than self-defense or defense of another, stealing for any reason other than necessity or getting back what was stolen from you, all these things would be considered “sin” in the book of a Satanist.

More on my new religion will be covered in a future article. I am not sure when I will be able to publish said future article, unfortunately.

Okay, so comment if you like. If you have an issue with something I said in the following essay, feel free to speak up about it. Without further ado, I present Religion of Discrepancy:

 

Ryan Maxwell

William Netherton

English 1301

10 October, 2016

Religion of Discrepancy

Christianity is the most prevalent religion in America, followed by Atheism and Agnosticism, which is not surprising given the fact that our founders were Christian themselves. (Schapiro) A more interesting fact is that Americans, primarily those of the younger generations, are beginning a shift from Christianity to other religions; usually agnosticism, atheism, or no affiliation. I, being one of those younger unfaithful, was a Christian throughout my childhood and have now been a proud agnostic for two years. Why did I leave the faith I was born into, and am still encouraged to follow by my parent, for a more questionable belief system? One of the reasons I did so is because I have seen a large amount of contradiction, hypocrisy, and weak argumentation among those of the Christian faith.

The Christian teachings, especially those in the Christian Bible, can be quite contradictory. The God mentioned in the Bible seems to change Their mind quite a bit, while simultaneously proclaiming to be unchangeable. (Ex. 32:14 – changes mind about killing nation; Num. 23:19 – says does not change mind, even when did earlier, then lies about it while saying does not lie; Holy Bible) At one point God says that They are a loving and merciful God. (Eph. 2:4; Holy Bible) However, earlier in the Bible God killed a whole slew of the Israelite camp because they worshiped an idol, which seems a bit childish given the fact that the people had only just come out of a country where worshipping idols was very common. And then God commends those in the camp who killed said slew of camp members for killing, even though They earlier commanded that Their people must not kill. (Ex. 32:1-29; Holy Bible) These contradictions within Christian teachings can be quite distracting to those prospectively joining the religion.

Besides the hypocrisy of God in the Bible, many Christians do and say hypocritical things. An example of such is the transgression of an influential Christian speaker. This person was prominent among the Christian home-schooling community and had a prosperous business selling home-schooling curricula and teaching recordings on many virtuous subjects. Unfortunately, several years ago, it was discovered that this person had been having an affair with someone in their employ for over ten years, all while preaching fidelity and love for one’s spouse to the public. This person caused all their followers to mistrust them, and by extension, all their teachings and perhaps the Christian faith itself. It is sad to see some Christians ruin the reputation of their religion via gross inconsistency. Sadly, this seems quite common. I have a friend who’s parent abused them regularly, while said parent preached Christian love and nonviolence, and claimed to love their child. This certainly did a great deal of damage to the Christian ideology my friend might have had as an adult, as they freely express their agnostic adherence is related to their Christian parent’s abuse.

American Christians aren’t very good at attracting others to their religion, either. The arguments for becoming a Christian usually rely on one blindly believing that a mysterious being, who no one can see and who never seems to answer prayers or work many miracles, actually cares enough about them, in particular, to keep them from dying in a fantastical torture world, while all the rest of the humans get to meet their fate without intervention. Arguing that God loved all Earthlings enough to let Their child be tortured to death, so therefore we must worship Them with undying devotion all our days, doesn’t make sense if one considers that someone who lets their child be tortured is a cruel person and must not care about other people if they can let their own flesh and blood suffer without intervening. Saying that all “believers” will go to “heaven” seems too good to be true. There is no evidence to prove what happens to humans after death, so no one can ever really know what comes after. Giving people a false sense of hope that they might live in paradise after death seems rather mean, actually. Overall, Christian arguments for following their religion or for following any of their teachings are unconvincing at best.

From what I have seen, read, and experienced, Christians are not always the sweet people one might suppose. Christianity is based on a book filled with contradictions, bigotry, and violence. (Deut. 13:6-9 – if someone’s relation of friend wants to be of another religion, it is that person’s duty to kill said relation or friend; I Tim. 2:12 – a woman cannot teach or be of higher rank than a man; Lev. 20:13 – gay people must be killed; Holy Bible) Platitudes, trite sayings, and emotional appeal may keep a few dancing to the tune of the Christian Way, but those who think for themselves seem much more likely to go for a more open-minded worldview. I feel Christianity is on its way out, to be replaced by a more tolerant and question-everything value system.

 

Works Cited

Schapiro, Rich, and Erica Pearson. “Americans Less Christian, More Atheist and Agnostic:

Survey.” NY Daily News. Pew Research Center, 12 May 2015. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.

Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

 

Okay, let me know what you think, kids. Thanks

See you next time

Sincerely,

Ryan L Maxwell

Posted in My past writing

The Never-ending Vaccine-Autism Debate

Okay kids,

It’s time for me to bring up an issue which a whole slew of people are likely to start a firestorm over. Namely, the vaccines-cause-autism debate.

I’m sorry if you don’t agree with my opinion on this. If you find my research to be flawed, then, by all means, do your own and prove me differently. I am happy to receive criticism, though I do ask that you back up your own argument with research.

So, here goes:

 

Ryan Maxwell

William Netherton

English 1301

28 September, 2016

 

                                                            Vaccines and Autism:

It has been an ongoing debate for some time now that vaccines are one of the leading causes of autism in young children. Many studies and articles are offered to the public from both sides, and the evidence presented by each position seems compelling. The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is widely blamed for causing autism. Parents who object to the vaccination of their children often bring up the presence of toxins in vaccines and the relation between said toxins and a variety of disorders, including autism. Two of the toxins referenced are mercury and aluminum. Many parents worry that their child receiving too many vaccines, too early in life, can weaken the child’s immune system, causing them to be susceptible to becoming autistic. There is evidence disproving that autism in a result of any of the above factors. The question now becomes where such evidence may be found. However, many of the arguments for vaccine caused autism have certain flaws in their argumentation, are based on outdated research, or while making a valid point, have left out key details which would otherwise show the lack of evidence to support them.

The well-known MMR vaccine is one of those popularly accused of causing autism. Many studies have been conducted to ascertain whether this vaccine is actually related to autism or any other of a host of health issues for which it is blamed. The conclusion which most of these studies have presented is that the MMR vaccine is not related to the health issues it is blamed for. There has been some evidence suggesting that the vaccine is associated with the rise of autism diagnoses between the years 1980 and 1994. However, the association between the two is not well established. (American Academy of Pediatrics)

There is evidence to suggest that mercury exposure is related to autism, as well. Mercury can come from many environmental sources, this type being of a chemical composition known as methylmercury, and is toxic to humans at concentrated levels. (Dufault, Renee) Vaccines are often blamed for being such a source of mercury. While it is true that vaccines contain some mercury, this is a component of the preservative thimerosal. The chemical nature of the mercury contained within vaccines, ethylmercury, is harmless to the human body unless administered at an extremely high dose. Much higher than that at which methylmercury becomes toxic. However, because of parental concerns that the mercury in thimerosal could cause autism, thimerosal was removed from many common vaccines in 2001. The influenza vaccine, which does still contain thimerosal, is offered in both thimerosal-containing and thimerosal-free doses. (“Thimerosal in Vaccines”)

Aluminum is considered a neurotoxin and is associated with various cognitive disorders.  Aluminum is added to vaccines as an adjuvant – an immune system stimulant which heightens the body’s response to the vaccine – and because of this and the neurotoxicity of aluminum at high levels, it is thought that the aluminum in vaccines contributes to autism. (Mercola, Joseph) However, aluminum is only harmful to a person when long-term exposure to high amounts occurs. The amount of aluminum in a vaccine is so small it cannot be detected in a person’s bloodstream even immediately after the injection takes place. In truth, aluminum is naturally occurring in many foods, in water, and in breast milk. A breastfed baby, over the first six months of life, will ingest approximately 7 mg. of aluminum from its mother’s milk, while only receiving around 4.4 mg. of aluminum from standard vaccines. (“What Goes Into a Vaccine?”)

Concerned parents are often worried that giving so many vaccines so early in life will compromise their child’s immune system, causing them to be susceptible to contracting autism. However, the belief that autism can be caused by one particular factor, as well as the idea that autism can be somehow contracted by a previously perfectly healthy child, have been disproven. Researchers have concluded that there are several rare gene mutations which are responsible for establishing autism risk initially, while many environmental factors, usually concerning the health and age of both parents and the health of the mother during pregnancy, contribute to this risk. Only around 15% of autism cases have a confirmed genetic cause for autism, with most cases being a result of combined genetic and environmental factors. In contrast, said environmental factors are not capable of inducing autistic behavior on their own. These factors usually affect the child indirectly through the parents’ genetics and/or the health of the mother while pregnant, rather than affecting the child after birth. Concerning the strength of a child’s immune system; babies are capable of immune response to antigens before birth. The protection from pathogens transferred from mother to child only protects from pathogens to which the mother is immune and only lasts a few months after birth. Babies have their own ability to generate immune responses to pathogens at birth, meaning that their bodies can protect them from the pathogens in vaccines from this time forward. Also, children with immunodeficiency have been found to respond better to live viruses in some vaccines than to the wild-type pathogens they would otherwise develop immunity to. Children who are ill are not affected adversely by vaccination, as the immune response to the specific pathogens contained within vaccines is comparable to that of healthy children. Additionally, infants have an overwhelming capacity for antigen response, and there are actually less total antigens contained in today’s vaccines than in those of previous years. This makes the argument that the increased number of vaccines given to children in the past decade is overwhelming children’s immune systems invalid. (Offit, Paul A.)

Given the evidence, vaccines are not as dangerous to children as some may paint them to be. Certainly, some of the most touted arguments for vaccines causing autism are provably invalid. While vaccines may be dangerous in many ways not within the scope of this document, the theory that vaccines cause autism has holes in it, as the top arguments in favor of said theory are easily disproven with evidence to the contrary from respected and knowledgeable sources. The MMR vaccine has been proven, over multiple studies, to not be related to autism. The toxins in vaccines are either no longer in use in modern vaccines, or are in such negligible amounts that natural environmental producers of such toxins are much more likely to cause health issues than vaccines containing them. And the argument that vaccines given in too large a quantity can compromise a child’s immune system is unscientific, given the strength of the infant immune system from birth.  Proof that one should not believe every bit of information presented on a subject without thorough research.

 

Works Cited

American Academy of Pediatrics, comp “Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence” (2013): 4-15, Apr. 2013, Web, 28 Sept. 2016

Dufault, Renee. “Mercury Exposure: Nutritional Deficiencies and Metabolic Disruptions May

Affect Learning in Children” Behavioral and Brain Functions BioMed Central, 27 Oct. 2009 Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

Mercola, Joseph. “Aluminum in Vaccines May Be More Dangerous than Mercury.” Mercola.com. Joseph Mercola, 21 Sept. 2011. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
Offit, Paul A. “Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the

Infant’s Immune System?” Pediatrics 109.1 (2002): n. pag. Aappublications.org.American Association of Pediatrics, 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
“Thimerosal in Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

“What Goes Into a Vaccine?” PublicHealth.org. PublicHealth, 27 May 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

 

Okay have fun reading and commenting, guys. Like I said, if you want to debate my position, you can. I would be interested in some friendly banter.

See you all next blog.

Posted in My past writing

Death Note Anime Character Essay

Hi everyone,

I am sure you are wondering where I went since it has been a few weeks since my last post.

I have been busy finding a job and finishing school. I got all A’s in my college classes. I have a great job tutoring a teenage guy with autism. He is a really cool person and learns very quickly. He is also teaching me something. I really like video games, but have never had anyone to teach me, so now this kid is teaching me how to play Guitar Hero and Call of Duty Black Ops. It’s a really fun job.

Okay, so once again I’d like to share some of my past writing. This one is also from the Composition One class I took in the fall semester of 2016. It’s about the somewhat popular anime series, Death Note.

 

Ryan Maxwell

Dr. Netherton

English 1301

September 12, 2016

                                                   

                                                   Great Minds Think Alike:

I recently watched an anime TV program, Death Note, which I found quite captivating. I found it to be such because of the intense minds and personalities of the two main characters. While at first the characters seem similar in their mindset and thought patterns, it is later shown how their moral standards greatly differ. Ultimately, because the one character has a moral compass and the other does not, the one with a moral compass wins, as good will inevitably trump evil.

The main character first introduced is Light Yagami, a seemingly normal 17-year-old high school senior who lives in Tokyo, Japan. When the show begins, Light is bored by his average life. This changes when Light comes across a book, known as a Death Note, which causes any person to die whose name is written in it. Light begins to see himself as a god of justice, killing criminals from all over the world simply by the stroke of a pen. His vengeance does not go unnoticed, and soon the public is both hailing him as their savior and reviling him as a vicious mass murderer, referring to him by the Japanese translation of the English word ‘killer’, which is ‘Kira’.

The second main character is L, a world renowned detective dedicated to the task of catching Kira and bringing him to justice. At a loss for how to catch a killer who can kill anyone from anywhere in the world whose face and name was at one time made public, the Tokyo Police force enlists L’s help, and the culprit list is soon narrowed down to only a few people, of which Light Yagami is one. Light, whose father is the Chief of Police, learns that he is one of those suspected and to divert such suspicion he offers to help in the investigation, an offer which is eventually accepted. By supposedly assisting the investigation Light is able to get to know L better, even becoming somewhat of a friend to him in the latter part of the show, a relationship which Light eventually uses to kill L.

As L and Light work together the similarities between them in the way they think is rather startling. Both men have a strong desire for justice, though their means to accomplishing said justice differ somewhat. Both are intellectually superior, and have excellent detective skills, though L is slightly quicker than Light to pick up on clues, given that he has been in the business of detective work much longer. The most interesting similarity between these characters is their mutual desire to win at all costs and disdain for admitting defeat. As Light is inwardly L’s greatest adversary, and L secretly never stops suspecting Light of being the mass murderer he claims to be helping to catch, both are playing a mental chess match throughout the show. This makes the plot exceptionally diverting as well as unexpected in its turn of events.

However, as much as Light and L are alike mentally, they are polar opposites in disposition and outward appearance. Light appears competent and capable in his manner. Light speaks with an air of calm authority, he stands up straight, and he is always outwardly polite, even altruistic at times. He always seems dressed ‘to the nines’ and is almost never seen without a suit and tie or at least a nice shirt and jacket. In short, Light never seems like the insane person who would kill millions of people at a few strokes of a pen. L, on the other hand, is rather awkward and socially inept. He has odd habits, such as crouching in chairs instead of actually sitting in them, eating only sweet and sugary foods, and asking questions or making statements which are blunt and to the point, often coming across as quite rude. He is always seen wearing the same outfit: a plain white shirt, baggy jeans, and bare feet.

The poignant difference between these characters is their moral standards. Light will stop at nothing to make himself a god among men, killing not only those who he deems to be threats to society, but also anyone who is against him or tries to catch him. L believes that no one person is capable of judging who is good or evil, and that murder is murder, whether done in the name of justice or not. Hence, Light believes that the law is something he can judge for himself, while L believes that law can only be properly determined by more than one individual, and no one person is above the law. While L is eventually killed by Light, one of L’s successors later destroys Light after forcing a confession as to his true identity as Kira. Thus the god among men fallacy which Light had entertained for so long was shattered by his death, as, were he truly a god, he would have succeeded in his plot to destroy all evil off the face of the Earth.

This series evokes much thought as to the meaning of good, evil, and life. While one may say that, essentially, Light Yagami’s motives were good, it is very clear that his rampage of killing did not do much to make life better for the general populace, and indeed created a great amount of chaos on many levels. Conversely, while L did not seem to do much good in stopping Light while he was alive, he paved the way for L’s successor to eventually bring Light down and was never blinded by Light’s manipulation and false sense of justice. These two characters are by far the most well developed and complex I have encountered in any anime I have watched, and have caused me to see how deceptive outward appearances can be. Never be fooled by what’s on the outside. It is the motives which count. “No matter how gifted you are… You, alone, cannot change the world.” – L Lawliet, Death Note

 

So there it is ladies, gentlemen, and humans. My masterpiece. I hope you like it. If you do, please feel free to comment and like.

 

Posted in My past writing

An Essay on Anime

Hello guys,

LanceMaxx here, and I want to share some of my past writing with you. Over the past Fall college semester, my first semester, I had a Composition One class. For this class, I wrote an essay on my, then, favorite anime series, Psycho-Pass. Here’s what I wrote:

 

Ryan Maxwell

September 5, 2016

English 1301

Dr. William Netherton

 

 

                                        Not Just Your Average Anime:

In recent years, a popular television and movie genre among teenagers has become Japanese anime. There are many anime TV programs to choose from, and the majority of them are either quite silly or have boring plotlines, and seem to encourage vacuousness. However, there is one particular anime series, called Psycho-Pass, which caught my interest. What makes it different from many other anime series? The presence of well-defined characters who possess moral standards, and who challenge what the society they live in sets as the status quo. This series, through the use of brilliant characterization, encourages its viewers to value human life, to stand up for the right thing, and to challenge what at first seems to be ‘the norm’.

The most prominent character, featured through both seasons of the show, is Akane Tsunemori, an Inspector for Tokyo’s Public Safety Bureau, Division 1. Her job as Inspector is to direct Enforcers. Enforcers are those who were once deemed by the Sybil System (a system which uses brain scanning technology to determine the likelihood of the commission of crime by every individual, measured as a ‘psycho-pass’, and based on that measurement determines the person’s eligibility to remain within society), to be dangerous to society, or ‘latent criminals’, and because of their criminal history are deemed the best persons to catch latent criminals. One aspect which separates Akane from most is her view that the Enforcers are people with logical minds and feelings, rather than simple hunting dogs. Another aspect in which Akane differs from her society is the philosophy that, in any situation, there are always options. In several instances toward the end of season one and in season two, Akane finds creative ways of lowering the psycho-pass readings of latent criminals from lethal to knockout levels on the Dominator (a transformable gun which measures a person’s psycho-pass, and based on that reading concludes whether the person is a target for enforcement) in order to give them a chance. Hence, Akane prefers to use logical reasoning, rather than a Dominator reading, to determine a person’s societal eligibility. Akane, unlike her society, values human life.

Another main character, prominent only through season one, is Shinya Kougami, a former Inspector, demoted to Enforcer. What stands out about him is the fact that he is quite stubborn and won’t give up once he has a mission in mind. Also, he is one of the best Enforcers of Division 1 because of his uncanny ability to understand the minds of criminals. On multiple occasions during season one Kougami puts himself in extreme danger to enable his team to take out an antagonist. Toward the end of season one, while on the case of the most prominent villain of this season, Kougami goes rogue in order to find the assassin and kill him, though his orders are to bring him in alive. Kougami does this because those in charge in the Sybil System will not destroy this person since they can use him. By taking this task upon himself, Kougami destroys the villain, but also prevents him from reentering society, although he did the right thing. The Sybil System views the act of an Enforcer going rouge as sufficient cause to destroy them, much more the act of that Enforcer killing someone which the System deems necessary. Kougami is a prime example of the nobility of standing up for the right thing in the face of danger, societal rejection, and even death.

The final prominent character to make an impression is the primary villain of season one, Shougo Makishima. He is characterized by a criminally asymptomatic nature, meaning that, unlike the rest of the people in his society, when he commits a crime his psycho-pass does not rise. He is disassociated from any emotional response to his actions. While a vicious killer and known to influence the heinous acts of several other less prominent criminals featured in the season, Makishima also makes an interesting point with his criminal acts. The message Makishima conveys is that those in his society have become too dependent on the Sybil System, and are no longer able to judge basic morality for themselves. He also makes the point that humans devoid of free choice are basically just animals who either just do what they are told or live to serve themselves. Perhaps the reason Kougami is able to defeat Makishima is that Kougami thinks for himself and fights against the odds, unlike most of his society. Makishima illustrates the necessity of free choice and people building character through establishing boundaries.

Psycho-Pass is a TV series which encourages morality and free choice. Though not appropriate for all audiences, given the graphic depiction of violence and gore throughout the show, this anime contains many valuable character-building lessons. The characters have complex personalities, the plot is varied and interesting, and it is an overall refreshing contrast to the other anime programs which I have watched. I always remember this when making any important decision: “It’s not the final judgment of “good” and “evil” that’s important. What matters is that you come to that decision yourself. That you agonize over it and eventually accept it” – Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass.

 

I hope you liked it. Tell me what you think in the comments.

Cheers,

Ryan L Maxwell

Posted in About Myself

Long Time No Show

Hi everyone, LanceMaxx here.

I have not posted in about four months. For that I am truly sorry.

Why?

School, trying to find a job, eventually working as a health care provider for my sick dad, becoming a Satanist (which makes a lot of sense to me and has proved a wonderful encouragement), finding a transgender support group in my area, making some new friends at this support group, reading a lot of books, my dad dying of prostate cancer, and finally finding the perfect girl to be my first girlfriend.

Sound like a hell of a lot of stressful shit? Well it has been. But I have survived and am now doing my best to take up my old projects, again. I have a list of topics to write on, and never fear, I will soon be back in business again.

Until next time … cheers.

– Ryan L Maxwell