Hello, my son or daughter. Writing this stream-of-consciousness list of short pieces of advice and wisdom reminds me of Marlon Brando as Jor El, the father of Kal El, in the first Christopher Reeve SUPERMAN movie. That movie exists in your A.I. archives. Make sure you have a look at it. I will dispense this advice now. Life: it will pass. You will get old, and in retrospect it will seem fast, but getting older is not as bad as you think. In fact, it’s a lot richer and far more multilayered than you can now imagine. And as for old age, it doesn’t last. Remember that. Think of a computer program. Which would you rather have, the 1.0 or the 1000.0 version? That’s kind of what aging is like. Your mind and emotions age long before your physical appearance does. Go out and get what you want, within what is right. Be calm. Be kind. Develop the ability to tolerate contradictory ideas in your mind while you consider them. Be patient. Think things through. Eat good natural food. Exercise daily. Rest and relax, doing no useful or practical work tasks for one day each week. Practically value what is most important. Give love each day. Listen to YES songs when you are depressed, they will bring you up like you would not believe. Watch the movie CODE 46 and you will learn about emotional film music, beautiful non-special effects cinematography, realistic soul acting, empathy for other people and strangers, compassion, conscience, books, subtlety, the contradictions of human personalities, the lies people tell, work relationships, karaoke, airports, airport security, the insurance business, mind reading, and the contradictions and destinies of life. Watch it at least twice, because the first time you probably won’t understand it and you will probably find it kind of boring, as I did. The next 39 times I watched it, I found it to be fairly interesting. Don’t get too judgmental about the five seconds of nudity in the movie or the moral failure. Read. Between the lines. 🤓 Watch MIND THE GAP, it was the first movie that got me into indie movies after age 40. It’s intense. Never hesitate to cry while watching great art. Deep emotional sobbing and soul-shattering bawling is okay. Life can be desperately sad and unfortunately, astoundingly evil. Watch OFF THE MAP with Sam Elliott if you want to learn about depression and hope. Watch OFF THE BLACK for the main character’s perspective of the years. Watch THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972 only). That movie is a great metaphor for Christianity–try to find all the symbols. Try to understand octopuses. Watch A SIMPLE PLAN if you want to learn about the greed you don’t think you have. Watch THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION if you want to learn about friendship, hope, and perseverance. Yes, that is the same lead actor as in CODE 46. Watch 21 GRAMS for a completely organic cinematic experience. Watch IN AMERICA to open your heart. Watch LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE if you want to understand the fallacies of positive thinking. Watch EAGLE VS. SHARK–it has so many truths about life. Watch BEFORE SUNRISE if you want to learn about good conversation. Watch TITANIC and DEEP IMPACT if you want to see how it all ends. Watch LOVE, ACTUALLY if you want to be warmed and uplifted. Watch THE MIST if you want to see why you should never, ever, give up hope. Watch CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (the original theatrical version) to open your sense of wonder. Of course, watch BLADE RUNNER, CONTACT, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, first two ALIEN movies, and PROMETHEUS–the last one is a wonderful tribute to all science-fiction films. Watch the best documentary film ever made, 42 UP, if you want to understand the arcs and changes of people’s lives across a lifetime. Watch the first two and a half STAR WARS movies, because, obviously, they’re the best. Listen to the music of DeBussy and Mahler. Listen to the music of RUSH if you want to experience what I enjoyed for almost their entire career (except the last couple of albums, for my entire lifetime, since age 12). Look into the wonderful impressionist paintings of Van Gogh, Monet, and Munch. Read from the Bible, especially the New Testament. Read part of a high quality book every day. Be creative. Think outside the box. There is no box. Will the will of God. Follow your goals each day. Expand your mind into infinity. There are a lot of galaxies out there. There are a lot of cultures out there, past and present. Graciously tell people about Jesus and the Gospel, the free, permanent, and irrevocable gift, received forever by simple faith in Him. There are a lot of weird and unusual animals out there, and unusual and unexpected facts. This is why you should learn another language. Life is a lot more like language than it is like math because language has plenty of things you simply have to memorize and get to know that do not make sense from the point of view of the abstractions of logic. Apple computers and Toyota cars are the two best brand names I have ever purchased. Take care of your health. Take good vitamins and supplements. Eat fruits and vegetables. Don’t eat a lot of junk food, unless you really want to. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, or murder (obviously! What are you, crazy?) Think of the consequences of everything. Question everything. Question everything. Did you hear me? I said question everything! And, seek out deeper and deeper answers. I assure you things go far deeper than you can imagine. Also, seek better answers. Be confident in what you know, but don’t get cocky, kid! Be humble, it fits your station in life, actually it fits everyone’s station in life. Find out about the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers. Learn some Latin root words. Buy yourself a Greek Interlinear to make sure of the meaning of words and verses in the New Testament. Don’t hurt yourself. Love yourself. Defend yourself. Defend your friends, and never lie, definitely no big lies. Take no abuse from anyone, ever. Appreciate, be thankful, enjoy. Be content. Don’t make long to-do lists. Make long lists of favorite things. Make a jar and fill it with slips of paper recording happy experiences you have. Dump out the jar at the end of the year or dump out the jar when you’re feeling nothing’s going right. See how your mood changes? Remember the past. Appreciate all of the beautiful and painful things that have happened in your life. Don’t live in the past. Achieve your goals. Seek the truth. Do your best, with all your heart. Know your story. Love life. Do the important things first. Don’t be a fool. Honor your parents. Be kind. Enjoy as much as you can. See the colors. Live free. Watch good movies. Watch fun movies, too, though, of course, obviously. But don’t watch only fun movies. Read good books. Do not read fiction only. Read a lot of nonfiction. Listen to good music. Accept things as they are. Improve things. Be patient. Don’t spend too much time on Facebook (if it still exists in that form), or on the Internet and emails. Teach your children well. Be satisfied. Be content. Reach for the stars. “Ad astra per aspera”: To the stars by difficulty. Look things up and look up the definitions of words. Almost never use abbreviations if you don’t know what they mean. Write well. Breathe. Take your time. Improve your vocabulary. See the other guy’s point of view. Accept imperfection. Enjoy nature. Be a good citizen. Read the Constitution of the United States. Don’t be gullible. Beware of false teachers. Depend on God, not on other people. If you depend on other people, you will learn very soon and very painfully how quickly that does not work out. Believe the best. Brush your teeth. Save some money. Give some money. Get some money! I mean, work for some money. Don’t rob banks, unless the security isn’t that tight, and you don’t really think you will get caught. Yes, that was a joke. Do not value money above God, other people, or your soul. Don’t sell your soul. Realize you are alive, right now. Guard your heart above all things. Let your words be few. Explain things at length. Life is a struggle, but obviously, not always. Realize that no one is completely satisfied. Think about Heaven. Travel. Time flies. It takes effort, but mostly desire, to know something. Art (by this I mean paintings, too) can give you joy. Respect everyone. Trust God. Love God. Be humble. Be one with God. Realize that you are already one with God, in Christ. Assemble with believers. Take the Lord’s Supper. Be calm. Tell yourself how wonderful things will be. Get full good sleep every night except for a time when you’re a young person out having fun late at night. Count your blessings. When it rains, it pours, and we ain’t talking about Morton’s Salt here. Put yourself in a good position. Defend yourself. Don’t be stupid. Don’t trust people until you really know their character. Learn new things. Unlearn stupid things. Wonder. Be wise. Think often, deeply, at night, and at length, about the highest and best things. Try the chocolate Vega protein powder and bars at GNC or whatever is better in your time. Read Paul Bragg health books. Eat only Certified Organic (pesticide-free) or food with Non-GMO stickers. Don’t get mercury amalgam fillings in your teeth. Do not use fluoride toothpaste. Don’t put a cellphone up to your head (radiation, brain cancer), and don’t buy a microwave. Eat natural, organic, ice cream and enjoy it. Like I had to tell you that. Eat as many watermelons as you can during the summer to clean out your kidneys and prevent kidney stones. If he is still alive, and he probably is, Jim Hause at the Health Hut in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a genius: his motto was: “Your health is only as good as your interest in it.” I agree. Learn a lot about things that can actually help you with the most important things which would be Christian spirituality and your health. Great literature will help you deal with other people. Go on adventures. Reflect. Sit outside and daydream. Enjoy the trees. Take photographs of beautiful things. Drink pure water. Put signs up that remind you of important things. Write down your dreams. Be aware of how different foods affect you. Keep a record of that. Pick a few most important goals. Tell yourself how great a day you will have. Repeat important things. Life is a mess, but you can live fairly serenely. Don’t go crazy, unless you really need to. Your Heavenly Father watches over you. You are holy, good, righteous, faith-filled, and loving, in Christ. But also confess your sins. Because you believe the Gospel, you are forever saved and forever indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God. God loves you and forgives all of your sins. After all the pains and disappointments of life, you are going to Heaven, because Jesus loves you and forgives you all your sins. As a believer, you are one of God’s elect, and YOUR NAME is written in Heaven. Never forget that. Don’t get self-righteous. Don’t become judgmental. Forgive everyone of everything, continually. Confess your sins. Love your people. Mend fences. Work hard. Use the Oxford comma. Read “Mere Christianity,” by C.S. Lewis. It’s free online, but buy the book and underline things that seem important and that are also biblical. It’s my favorite book, and I have read it many times, even though it has some theological errors and doesn’t emphasize justification by faith enough. But, I’ll tell you what it does emphasize: God’s grace! Read “The Spiritual Man” by Watchman Nee (it is an unimaginably life-changing book, but Nee doesn’t emphasize love or enjoying life enough.) Read “Story” by Robert McKee if you watch movies or any tv series. Your mind will never be the same. Don’t watch too much tv, because it is mostly advertising, propaganda, and crummy drama and comedy. Do not spend your entire life watching pornography, unless that’s truly how you want to spend your life. You do have free will. And you are under grace. Regarding food, develop the self-control that God has given you in Christ. I’m still working on that one myself. Read “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud. Read “Feeling Good” by Dr. David D. Burns. Read “Embracing the Love of God,” by Bryan Smith. Read “Forgiveness” by Jerry Jampolsky. Read “Eternal Security,” by R.T. Kendall. Read books by Andrew Murray. Read, “Sanctification by Grace through Faith,” by Robert Rhyne (free on the Internet.) Read “Our Problem with Grace,” by Michael Spencer, the Internet monk, free online (I’ve read these last two over and over and over). Read those last two things, the paper and the article, over and over, if you find in them the same things I did. Read Roger Ebert’s classic movie reviews, free online. Read my blog, graceinsightandart.wordpress.com and my other movie and insight blogs if you want to. Search under my name, “Curtis Smale.” Just kidding. I know you know who I am. Find out about the evil of Lordship Salvation, so you don’t fall into it. Beware of false teachers. Realize that most American churches preach Lordship Salvation False Gospel, and do not join any church that teaches it–that teaches you must repent of your sins, make a commitment to Christ (the damnable doctrine of salvation by good works), and be a lifelong disciple in order to be saved. (Being a disciple of Jesus is good, but it’s not a condition of salvation.) John 6:47 is my favorite Bible verse, because Jesus says it, and because it has the word “has.” He who believes in Jesus HAS, present possession, everlasting life. Reject all unbiblical doctrines. Read John, 1st John, Galatians, Ephesians, Romans and 1st Corinthians, especially, and all the others, of course. All of these are easy and short books, except Romans. Read books about things you disagree with. Eat the meat and spit out the bones. Think. Read. Write. Don’t believe everything you read. Don’t believe everything you think. Don’t do dangerous and stupid things. If you are about to do something “daring” and you realize it could cause a lifetime of pain or disability, maybe consider not doing that thing. Struggle to take care of your health. Go to bookstores or the library often. Never stop reading good books and articles and good anything. If you read and do most of these things, you will have learned far more than I ever learned in high school and four and a half years of college. God is love. Believe in the God-man. Jesus died on the cross for all of your sins and rose again on the third day. Jesus is your Savior from sin, death, and Hell. God created the universe. God is a Trinity. Trinity means Three Persons in One God. The Holy Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are a child of God. Heaven is your home. Live under grace. Live by your identity as a holy child of God in Christ. Trust God. Trust the Lord. Trust your Heavenly Father. Trust Jesus. Trust the Holy Spirit. Live by faith in your holy and perfect identity in Christ. You are a child of God. Again, live under God’s grace. Live in God’s love. Live by the Holy Spirit in your spirit. Will the will of God and you will know God deeper. Abide in Christ. Abide in the Word. Live by faith in who you are in Christ: you have died to sin with Christ, and you have risen again from death with Him. Follow His Spirit in your spirit. The Bible is made up of these parts: law, history, poetry, prophecy, gospels, epistles, and the apocalypse. The human being is made up of four parts: spirit, mind, emotions, and body. (Or three parts, if you count mind and emotions as being one part: the soul.) Love your neighbor. Love your neighbor as yourself. Even better, love others as Jesus loves you. Love from God’s Spirit which dwells in your spirit. Believe in eternal security. Believe in, and biblically research, the spiritual truth that every human being has the possibility to be saved by asking God for mercy for their sinful souls, no matter who they are, or where they are, or in what culture, even if the Gospel has never reached them. But no matter who, or where, or when a person was or is, they are always and only saved by grace through spiritual faith through the atoning death of Christ, and by His resurrection. You can find convincing arguments for this in the “Handbook of Christian Apologetics,” by Kreeft and Tacelli. Forgive everyone of everything, continually. Don’t be a prideful jerk. Become kind and considerate and understanding of other people. Get rid of all anger. Confess your sins. Abide in the Word. Try to understand other people. Forgive everyone of everything, continually. Yes, I repeated that on purpose. Give everyone credit for the truth they speak and the civic righteousness good things they do. Give sincere compliments every time you see something good in people. Cuss as much as you want, but how much will that be? You are not under the law–live by His Spirit. Listen. Look up. Pray. Work hard. Guard your heart. Do the best you can with all your heart as often as you can. Believe in beauty and objective quality. Read the Bible. Know the Scripture. Memorize Bible verses. Believe the Scripture. Love as Jesus loved, by His Spirit. Follow the Spirit. Trust your Heavenly Father. Live in His Grace. As a believer, you are not under Moses’ Law. You are not under the Mosaic Law. Mosaic is a funny word. You are not living under the law. Be wise. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Bugs! What bugs! In my bed?! How can I sleep now?! If I should die before I wake? Die?! Mom!! I’m gonna die tonight?! How can I sleep now?! Well, as long as you’re up, you might as well read… 😃😜😊🤓 I love you, and God bless you. –Curtis
Here’s a photo of my absolute favorite books:
To Cody, Cade, and Savannah, and all other children and adults wanting good advice.