Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Is Christ a Good Tap-Dancer? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #50

This thinkjoust is pretty simple.

Many Christians believe Jesus Christ is perfect. Some people believe that Christ's perfection extends beyond his leadership, personality, and self-awareness to talents and abilities.

In essence, if Christ is perfect, then how is he perfect? Is he a perfect singer? Is he a perfect dancer? Is he a perfect sculptor, athlete, artist? Is Christ an excellent tap-dancer? His time on earth didn't give him time to learn all these things, but did he know them before? When he ascended, did he gain those abilities after?

So, to sum things up, does the Christian concept of perfection include tap-dancing?

I'll respond with my own thoughts this next Saturday, but what do you think? Be sure to leave a comment below or on social media, and you may be featured!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why You Should Tell Strangers They're Beautiful - Response Saturday #18

I would have liked more people's opinions, but it is summer. Nobody's slacking off in class anymore.

The thing is, I asked all those question in the thinkjoust because I honestly don't know. If you were a stranger, and I randomly told you you were beautiful, would you appreciate the compliment?

At this point, I want to leave some sort of challenge or commitment. "Try it out," I might say. "Tell a stranger they're beautiful, and I'll do the same." The thing is, without any form of accountability, the whole challenge becomes nothing but a pleasant little string of words at the end of a post, designed to make you feel good about yourself.

So how about this.

If five people comment about their experience of telling a stranger that they're beautiful, then I will write a whole post in exquisite Zachary James detail about my own experience doing the exact same thing.

Honestly, doing such a thing goes a bit beyond my own comfort level. However, if I get enough of you to engage with the challenge, then I'll gladly do it myself, probably in an embarrassing fashion.

I look forward to hearing about your experience!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Rhinoceros Technique in Dating - Thursday Thought #4

During Valentine's Week 2016, I talked about how people can clear up all misunderstandings between genders with proper communication. That particular post was designed to help people maintain and develop pre-established relationships.

But let's talk about communication in regards to romantic interests.

Let's say you're a (guy/girl) crushing on a (girl/guy). You think they're attractive, or fun to be around, or just very, very interesting. However, you're not sure they would feel the same way. What do you do?

In my case, I would use what I call the Rhinoceros Technique.

It's simple, really. Imagine a rhinoceros charging forward. Anything with a brain will get out of the way, and anything without a brain better hope it's made of material strong enough to withstand five thousand pounds of wild animal. If the rhinoceros wants to get anywhere, by golly, you better believe it can.

So the same with relationships. If you're interested in someone, be a rhinoceros, charge in, and tell them how you feel. One of three things will happen.

(1) They might not be sure, but be willing to feel things out.

(2) They might not feel the same way.

(3) They might, you guessed it, actually feel the same way.

Sure, some disappointment might come if the first, and definitely the second, turns out to be the case. But what do you really lose if you just say how you feel? And if they feel the same way, think of what you have to gain.

So, the next time you're spending way too much time wondering about your crush, consider this. And let me know in the comments if it works out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Should You Tell Strangers They're Beautiful? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #49

This video went viral for a while back in 2015. Ever since then, I've been thinking about how this sort of exercise would work in an open setting.

For example, I remember when I was first entering the missionary training center. As my Dad drove me up to the cul-de-sac to drop me off, a group of missionaries heading off to exercise in the field passed by my open window. "Welcome!" some of them called.

"YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!" one bellowed.

The compliment surprised me, but I was so relieved by the random compliment, I was better able to shoulder the conflicting emotions I was feeling, as well as better hold back any threatening tears looming to escape the jail of my ducts.

I've heard other stories of individuals being told that they're beautiful by random strangers, and how touched and excited they were thanks to this encounter. Even though telling strangers they're beautiful seems to grind against American social structures, I don't think anyone would be entirely against having this experience.

At the same time, I can imagine certain circumstances in which people might be put off by this sort of complimenting. What if the complimenter is much older than the complimentee, but not old enough? What if the complimenter just looks creepy, or gives off creepy vibes? What if the complimentee just doesn't find the complimenter beautiful back? What if the delivery comes across as forced or awkward? What if the complimentee just feels like they're being hit on? What if the complimenter uses the exchange to hit on the complimentee?

As you can see, this can go a lot of different directions. Complimenting random strangers may not always be appropriate.

So here's the thinkjoust. Is this activity ever appropriate? And if so, then when? Comment below or on the usual social media platforms, and you may just be featured!

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How I Cope With Trials - Response Saturday #17

I apparently picked a tough topic for the thinkjoust again this week. My bad, guys! Either way, thanks to the people who responded to the prompt. Let's jump into my thoughts, shall we?

I recently attended a short seminar by Jeff DeSarbo, a psychiatrist dedicated to the mental well-being of humanity.

And here he is!

DeSarbo spoke a lot about how to find peace by watching and, if necessary, changing the way you think. Let me share some of my thoughts about what he said.

Now, before we begin, I would be the last person to say that this advice is good bedside manner. If you're struggling to cope with a trial, this may not help. However, if you'd like to preemptively prepare for trials with possible coping mechanisms, well, this is your post.

Let's imagine two near-identical situations with one small variable changed. You're walking downtown on a beautiful sunny day, smiling and enjoying the breeze. Now throw yourself in the same situation, but then a construction worker accidentally dumps a bucket of dirty water all over you. For a lot of people, that would be a miserable experience (myself included).

In that moment of being drenched, you have two options. One, you can continue on your way with the same smile and enjoyment. You didn't have any control over the construction worker, so why worry or get upset? Why let the water ruin your day? Two, the other option is to do the exact opposite.

Letting things roll off your back is difficult, especially when you can't control what's happening. I, myself, seek to find someone to blame and even hate when placed into such situations. "Curse you, random rooftop-dwelling construction worker!" I might scream. "I only leave my lair of writing once a year, and this is how I'm rewarded for trying to get some sun on my skin?"

At the same time, serenity is not worrying about things you have no control over. If you can conquer your urges to allow your emotions to be controlled by outside stimulus, then your peace and happiness in life can be that much stronger. If you are the calmest in a sea of chaos, then you are in control.

So what do you think? Was that helpful, or not at all? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Note on the Dating Habits of Feminists - Thursday Thought #3

This post is very much a sister post to the last Thursday Thought.

I consider myself a supporter of pure feminism, which I define as a movement seeking equality for women.* It appalls me when women are objectified by the media, by society, and by people I know. Women deserve to have every right a man does. Many people are depressingly ignorant of the physical, social, and mental issues associated with the abuse of women. I have met and heard of men who are irredeemable because of the way they treat the opposite sex. For example, I am incredibly angered by the actions of Mike Faverman, which recently went viral (note: Faverman's texts contain some graphic descriptions).

Now, I'm not going to say I'm a feminist, nor am I going to say I'm perfect at standing up for every feminist issue. I profess to and apologize for my ignorance regarding many of these issues. At the same time, I've noticed a few unpleasant trends in my dating life that are connected to self-proclaimed feminists, and I wanted to address them.

For starters, if you are a feminist, please don't disrespect my attempts to be chivalrous. Yes, chivalry is not dead. Yes, some men are jerks, but I don't hold your door open so I can look at your butt. I don't try to buy my way to kisses with dinner. I hold your door open because I'm showing you respect. I buy you dinner because I enjoy your company and doubt my own company would be worth it otherwise.

And you know what? I'm not going to stop doing those things. But if you are a feminist, don't take advantage of me. If you truly believe in equality between men and women, don't just keep accepting dates because you like getting free meals. I may enjoy your company, but don't waste your time if you don't enjoy mine. And if you do enjoy my company, then at least offer to buy a meal sometime, or even hold the door open. I probably won't let you, but at least I'll know you're not just enjoying the feeling of being served by a member of the opposition, aka men.

And if you're a feminist, don't play hard to get. Don't play coy and play games with people's minds. Don't put yourself on a pedestal. Don't make yourself a prize to be won. All you're really doing is objectifying yourself. You turn yourself into an object to lust after. You make yourself unreachable, and therefore less personable. Your refusal to communicate your true feelings masks your true character and persona, making it impossible for your value as a three-dimensional person to come to light. You are more than a shiny trophy. Don't be one.

And finally, it can be annoying to see men act like pigs. It can be annoying to watch them ogle and pine over statuesque celebrities. But if you are a feminist, don't ogle and pine over shirtless boy bands and actors. Otherwise, you engage in the same objectifying act. Don't create another double standard. The search for equality across gender, race, and creed should never compromise on any double standards.

This post may not be popular. I apologize for any offense, for none is intended. And I am definitely not saying all women, or even all feminists, act in the ways I described. That would be generalizing.

And I hate all generalizations.**

*I do not support extreme feminism, which I define as the aggrandization of women over men.

**I see the irony here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How Do You Cope With Trials? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #48

Original picture taken from On an Adventure: a girl and her boys
One of my friends threw me a link a few weeks ago asking me to run a thinkjoust about the couple featured in the blog On an Adventure: a girl and her boys.

To make a long story short, a couple (Spencer and Whitney) struggling with infertility decided to take 6 sets of photos in honor of Infertility Awareness Week. The first half of the series were representations of modern pregnancy announcements. The second half of the series were parodies of those same announcements.

The photos were a mixed bag of emotions for me. While the comparisons were funny, and Spencer and Whitney's over-the-top emotions perfected the parody, it was obvious the couple found the experience of infertility utterly painful.

However, Spencer and Whitney coped through good humor and optimism. They've adopted two boys, and they seem happy as all out.

At the same time, I could imagine some couples failing to see the humor in the announcements. Some individuals may find the parody photos insensitive, especially if viewed out of context. That isn't to say Spencer and Whitney were wrong to make those photos, but to point out that there are many ways to overcome difficult times.

Not everyone feels confident finding ways to cope with difficult, sad, or depressing times. That's why I wanted to ask you guys how you cope. Do you use humor? Do you take time to be alone and meditate? Do you visit with family or friends?

Let me know in the comments ways you think your methods might help others, and this Saturday, I'll share my own methods of coping.

Don't forget to send any suggestions for future posts via the suggestion link up top! I love you guys, and I'll see you Thursday!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Make This Blog Great Again

I may not like Trump, but I do have to say, his slogan is catchy. Also, he successfully made me the fool, so I have to give him props for that.

Change and Cherish Blog underwent some changes this past weekend! Here's what we got going on.

This blog is going to become symbiotic with my new website, zacjam.com. The extent of this relationship may increase or decrease as time goes on, but we'll see. Either way, you can now click a link taking you directly to zacjam.com, right there beneath the header.

Just to the left of this header is another link, 'Suggest a Topic.' I want to invite all you readers to give me suggestions for blog posts, especially for thinkjousts! I have a long list of topics I want to write about, but I want to write something for you guys, not just me.

And that's it! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

When I Care About the Opinions of Others - Response Saturday #16

I didn't get a lot of comments on this past week's thinkjoust, so maybe I need to come up with better topics? Who knows. We'll see. Either way, most of what I talk about today will be less of a response to your comments, and more of an outline of my own thoughts.

The question was, "When Should You Care About What Others Think?"

For starters, you have to be you first. I and many of my friends often ask each other for advice about how to act (including when we're trying to understand the opposite gender), but when we make a choice, we make it our own. Our decisions and the lives we lead are products of choice, of our own self-motivated spirit.

There comes times when other people criticize us for the choices we make, whether great or small. It is in these moments when we demonstrate our conviction to ourselves. If we change who we are because of someone else, then our conviction is weakened. Judgments, especially those which are unfounded, are not worth my time to consider.

Who am I am is how I act in both adversity and prosperity. What I believe is not necessarily who I am. As such, when someone questions my belief systems by expressing their own, I should carefully consider everything they say and then keep or discard the truth from it.

In a personal example, after I write a book, I cannot discard the opinions and criticisms of my fans. While not every criticism pointed at every creative work can be considered valid (I'm looking at you, internet trolls), I need to carefully consider those that are valid. The reviews for Ama's Watch (Amazon and Goodreads) have been enlightening and instructive for me as a writer, and I'm pleased to have such an eager and honest fan base. I have to care about their opinions.

Most importantly, I may not care about the opinions of others, but I need to care for others, regardless of their opinions. If I turn away someone's friendship or even companionship because we think, act, or look differently, then I am no better than the "judgmental" people I so "disdain."

This Week's Top Comments

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why I Believe No Woman Is Worth Fighting For - Thursday Thought #2

When it comes to dating and relationships, I am a firm believer in equality.

I don't want to be in control, nor do I want to be without say. I want to be in a partnership, equally yolked. I want to make big decisions only after conferring with my significant other. I want us both to feel confident in our decisions and push forward with a full understanding that we will support each other no matter what.

It's likely impossible to form this sort of bond prior to entering a relationship. As it is, society dictates that someone has to initiate romantic contact before any partnership can be formed. In our society, it is the man who acts as the initiator, usually by asking a lady on a date.

When a guy asks a girl on a date, he is generally putting himself into a vulnerable position. If the guy is truly interested in the girl, then he has, in a way, already committed to at least seeing where things might go.

I'm OK with that. The thing is, as time goes on, and I ask a girl on more and more dates, there comes a point when she gains control.

She may express interest, but seems hesitant about fully committing. She may be slow to finalize plans. She may be dating several other guys. She may seem eager to socialize in person, but distant when away.

I'm OK with that. But the longer that goes on, the less I want to keep up the pursuit.

If I were to actually enter into a relationship with that sort of person, then I'm signalling that while it was an easy choice for me, it was a difficult, even trying, choice for her. Already the partnership I'm gunning for is undermined, because it puts her on a pedestal where she has the final say in where our relationship goes and what it decides.

When I'm looking for a relationship, I'm looking for someone who's just as willing to take a chance on me as I am on them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

When Should You Care About What Others Think? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #47

I often meet people who tell me they don't care what others think of them. Despite this, I have found that these same people often express fears of being judged.

Now, I may be crazy, but the phrase 'I Don't Care What People Think About Me' has reached near memetic status in our culture. A disdain for judgmental people has also become increasingly more prevalent.

This apparent inconsistency has led me to reflect on how I view the opinions of others. How much do I really care about what other people think? I act the way I want to act, but am I under the influence of pressure? Do I ever feel guilt or shame over my choices? Do I fear or wonder about what other people think despite my own agency?

After some internal debate, I decided that there was no one catch-all answer to this situation. I could imagine scenarios in which I would be foolish to rely on the opinions of others. I could also imagine scenarios in which I would be greatly strengthened by the opinions of others.

So my question is, when should I care about what others think about me? After all, it seems obvious that I can't live through life doing nothing but dissing the opinions of others.

This next Response Saturday will present my up-to-date opinion regarding when I should accept judgments and feedback. I will consider any arguments you deliver via the comments section or social media engagements.

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Why You Should Challenge Your Beliefs - Response Saturday #15

This past Tuesday, I asked the question, 'Should You Question Your Beliefs?"

There weren't as many comments to sort through this week, but the few who commented were fairly unanimous. We should challenge our beliefs. One commentator pointed out that 'challenging belief' is really just seeking truth, wherever and however you may find it.

However, when it comes down to it, the post is called Why one should challenge their beliefs. Let me explain the way I see it.

Some buildings grow old and decrepit after many years of use. However, if architects and construction crews alter the structure to modern standards, the building can be reused for a new and unique purpose, if not the original purpose.

When you exercise, you're trying to get stronger. The effort can actually tear your muscles (on a microscopic level, sure, but hey), but it is the resulting healing process that actually lends you new strength.

Funnily enough, some of my most memorable friendships came to be because I initially accounted them among my rivals and enemies.

My point is, weakness always precedes strength. If you take pains to challenge your own beliefs, you may feel uncertain for a time, but then you are able to be more confident in the truths you have discovered.

I know my beliefs were challenged several times while I served my mission in Arizona and Jamaica. I wondered many times if I was doing the right thing. But after every crisis of faith, I studied and thought about things and came away with a better understanding of not just what I believe in, but also who I am as a person.

And that is more valuable to me than anything.

So don't be afraid to question yourself. If you come away with a different understanding of the world, well, that just means you're progressing and improving.

Good luck on your journey.

This Week's Top Comments

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why You Can't Judge Groups as a Whole

I belong to a lot of different groups. I am a Mormon by religion. I belong to various groups of bloggers and writers. I am a walker, a Steventhusiast, a brony, and a Whovian based on the TV shows I like. I am both a video gamer and a tabletop gamer. All these groups barely scratch the surface of a very extensive list.

Of course, some of these groups are more prone to criticism and mockery than others. For example, I recently met an individual who discovered I was a brony. His initial response was to question my manhood. I questioned him and unearthed he'd previously roomed with a brony. His impression of this brony was less than favorable. As it was, upon learning of this vague connection between me and his former roommate, my new associate projected all his negative impressions on to me.

Therein lies the danger in assuming all members of a group act in the same manner. No one organization produces their members using a cookie cutter or an assembly line.

To illustrate this, I've decided to pick on Democrats, because I've done enough picking on Republicans in recent history.

Some people who dislike Democrats are quick to condemn the group. One might say, "Democrats are nothin' but a bunch of wing-flappin' moonbats!"


This disdain for Democrats might even bleed into personal social interactions. Imagine a conversation between strangers,

"Why, hello there! How are you?"

"Okay. Work's been pretty rough, but I'm getting through."

"Oh, I feel ya! The boss has been driving me crazy lately."

Both strangers feel good inside. We made common ground!

"So what's your job?"

"I was about to ask the same thing!"

Both strangers answer at the same time.

"I'm a fundraiser for the Democratic party."
"I'm a Republican political campaign manager."

Both strangers immediately engage in a team deathmatch.

The thing is, just because someone belongs to groups different than you own doesn't mean you can't or won't find common ground. Let me explain.

As the elephant represents the Republican party, so does the donkey represent the Democratic party. It's easy to malign Democrats by calling them "Bleeding heart liberal [donkeys]," but did you know that no two donkeys are exactly alike, either?

Let's simplify this and talk about breeds. Did you know the largest donkey in the world is a breed called American Mammoths? The smallest donkey breed is appropriately named Miniature. Bands of feral donkeys roam the Australian plain. Poitou donkeys have hair long enough to turn into dreadlocks. And Pega donkeys just look super cool.

You may be tempted to judge or deride someone based on a group to which they belong. But frankly, no one person is defined by any one group. No one group has the power to de-individualize a person.

The sad thing is, believing in the de-individualization of people within groups created the twin problems of sexism and racism.

So maybe you can judge groups as a whole. But I've made the decision that I won't.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Should You Challenge Your Beliefs? - Thinkjoust Tuesday #46

I'm pretty sure everyone knows I don't like Donald Trump. Here's some proof. Here, too. And here. And ... here. 

As it is, it's no surprise that I absolutely love it when Late Night talk show hosts blast the politician. One particularly infamous example happened on Stephen Colbert's show, in a particular segment that some people say 'Destroyed Donald Trump.' The clip is down below.

I thought the debate was not only hilarious, but also revealing. Come on! I thought. How does anyone like this guy?

Then, a short while later, I found this comic.


Thanks to David Malki ! for this comic.

Anyway, if you didn't want to read the whole thing, the point is, Stephen Colbert (or Bingus Gabberdeen, as it were) didn't actually destroy Donald Trump. Yes, he may have successfully burned Donald Trump, but Colbert lacked the ability to actually change anything. The musician-character in the comic says it best, and I quote.

"It was insightful and funny and, as it was delivered to an entirely like-minded audience, it changed the political opinion of no one."

This blew my mind because it made so much sense. DUH Colbert couldn't destroy Donald Trump. He was already preaching to the choir.

And it makes sense. If you're a right-wing, you're probably going to prefer right-wing news programming. If you're a left-wing, the same pattern naturally follows. If you like Donald Trump, odds are you're not going to like Stephen Colbert, and so you won't be a part of his audience.

So I got to thinking, and I realized I have very rarely challenged my beliefs regarding Donald Trump. I often watch videos that condemn or criticize him, but I don't actively seek out material that praises him or discusses his good merits. In that sense, I have merely validated my own opinion instead of building a larger picture and then going off of that.

The thing is, I find it scary to break down my beliefs and analyze them. My personal belief system is a large part of the foundation that makes me who I am. If I discover something that challenges my belief system, and I agree with that challenge, I feel vulnerable. I'm no longer confident in who I am.

An example of this can be found in my post following up on the In God We Trust thinkjoust. In essence, the follow-up discussed my belief that it didn't really matter if In God We Trust is carved onto our government buildings and coins. But then an anonymous user commented on the follow-up. Their tone in the comment was vaguely confrontational, but they raised some good points that changed my perspective on the In God We Trust issue.

So now I ask you, dear audience. Is it a good idea to challenge your beliefs, or should we stick with material that appeals to and/or validates us?

This next Response Saturday will present my up-to-date opinion about challenging your personal beliefs. I will consider any arguments you deliver via the comments section or social media engagements.

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.