Who will I lose?

When it comes to the end of this whole human experience, the end of the world and the universe, where all come to meet their Creator, I cannot help but feel a tinge of fear. OK, maybe a lot of fear. Let me explain:

Ever since I was young, I was thankful that I and my family were among the ones who would be saved from being thrown in the great divine trash heap to which most of humankind was doomed. I would look around at the mass of humanity being carried along by the floods of sin and evil without anyone to pull them out. To be sure, some people might be pulled out. In my mind, my family, friends, and I had been pulled out and were also given the task of pulling everyone else out. But, there are some people you just can’t reach.

So, there we were in the great Ark of Christianity, drifting along the floods of humanity; thankful that we were aboard, but silently mourning the loss of millions of others. Fake comfort was offered to us to alleviate the realization that “this is just how it is.”  We were told either (1) that God logically cannot save everyone since most of humankind was out of reach or refused help, or (2) that God had chosen us above all others and purposely left the rest to drown.

It took years to ponder the implications of each idea. Later on, I could not get past the feeling that God was either, according to (1), impotent against the human will and the gates of hell prevailed over most of humanity, or, according to (2), God did not want to save everyone, making Him quite the divine monster. Must I be told to love my neighbor, feel compassion for him, know him personally, and ache for his salvation until such time as he can no longer be considered my neighbor? Can God throw out his own image into the trash heap?

Yet, I believed that’s exactly what he was going to do. My neighbor, whom I must love as myself, would be ripped from me. And, it would feel like I was being ripped apart. If I loved him, really loved him, that’s what it would feel like. The gates of Hell really were the victors in the end. The gates would steal my neighbors, maybe my future family members, maybe even my own son or daughter.  How can I live with that? How can God, who is said to love everyone even more than I love them, live with that? If God is love, He too will be ripped apart. But, if he already chose some for the trash heap, he is indifferent, uncaring, and places quite the unreasonable burden of future grief on all his followers. They must love all people, but prepare to lose all people. For God did not really love them in the first place. At least, He did not love them enough to save them. How can I truly love my neighbor as myself under these conditions? Will my neighbor, just as valuable and worthy of love as myself, no longer be my neighbor? God forbid! To lose my neighbor is to lose my very own son. That’s the strongest I can put it. To lose even myself to the trash heap of Hell is nothing compared to losing my own son there. I cannot love such a God who would throw him away, be God grieved or indifferent.

God forbid that I should love more than He does. Can God be outdone in love? “No!” my heart cries, “He loves more than I.” I cannot have been educated in love from my earliest memory by my mother and father, by my brother and sister, by all who have ever come before me: whose written words of love have instructed me, and gotten love so wrong. I know not what else to say except that if God is Love, as the Scriptures and all who have taught me say, then His hands are good hands to fall into. In death we all go to Him who is Love. And who shall be able to separate us from the love of God? No one. Not even ourselves.

Still, I do not know this for sure. It is only the logic of Love, which spurns all other logic. It is only the hope that all this will not end in the most horrifying way possible; that not even one will be thrown away – that God will not let one of His lost sheep slip through his hands. They look like big strong hands, don’t they?

The Angry Sea

Smoking is an exercise of men who expect to die. I find myself recognizing my mortality more often; and the thought sometimes happens in conjunction with that particular exercise. I often reflect that men have been cut off from life in the prime of their youth, yet I continue to persist. I feel it a privilege, and I am pleased by this happy circumstance. From the vantage point this thought gives me, I glimpse the work of infinity. Life has always begun with the same things: hours, days, years, births and deaths. These numbers follow one another in regular succession and are multiplied indefinitely. Infinity drives events onward multiplying itself upon them. Nation rises up against nation, brother against brother, and sword against sword. The word “sword” is peculiar and descriptive of men. Our “words” weren’t enough so we thrust them into the inwards parts of others by adding an “s” at the beginning. The life and flame of man found material expression and extinguished the life and flame of other men.

Over time, we have forgotten our thoughts and only remembered the sword. Thus, we blame the sword for its skillful work, for doing what it was made to do. Now, evil men wield it and we don’t understand them. We have created numerous peaceful communities and removed ourselves from evil. But, these times are only part of the regular succession of historical numbers. The same things will happen again, only we have forgotten who we are, forgotten our part in this succession of numbers. We have forgotten what caused us to add the “s” in the first place. We are evil.

We are like a man born on a ship at sea who through his adolescence has seen great waves push other men off the ship and drown them with tempestuous rage; but has also admired the tranquil beauty of the sea when it is still. He has learned to fear and love the sea. When he is older, he leaves the ship and makes his home on the land. The years are kind to him and give him a wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. All his life he watches the sea and tells his children of his seafaring adventures. But, the older he gets the more his stories lose their dangerous elements and become songs of the sea’s beauty. He loves it at a distance until one day in his frailty he wades too far in the water and drowns. His great grandchildren are affected the most by his death because they too have loved this sea from a distance like their great grandfather. A change comes over them and they remember what their great grandfather had forgotten: to fear the sea.

The heart of man is the sea: a strange mixture of evil and good. In a moment, we make swords; and in the next moment, we beat them into plowshares. We are a fountain yielding sweet water and bitter. Recently in this land, the sea has reared its evil head and drowned children with tempestuous rage, drowned the most precious among us. It spared not our young, but cruelly and mercilessly dashed them against the rocks. The rolling waves run red with the blood of the innocent; it has become the red tide stained by the acts of evil men. We who live on the land must remember the sea’s anger and learn once more the fear we have too long forgotten. The Angry Sea Thomas Moran

The Enemy Within

 

The Adversary Culture, as Lionel Trilling indicates, believes “a primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture… and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.” In this view, society and government are thought to have negative characteristics such as force, compulsion, control, and coercion while the individual is thought to have positive qualities such as liberty, independence, will, and goodness.

(Lionel Trilling, Beyond Culture [New York, 1965], p. xiii.)

But let us not forget the reason for society in the first place. Our short lives here on earth are of an uncertain duration, frail, and fleeting. This being the case, we have need of several outward supports that the pain of hard work can provide in order to make our lives comfortable. For these “supports” are not provided to us by nature nor do they spontaneously appear in front of us prepared for our use. We must work to attain them. Crops don’t plant themselves. However, there are men who violently take the fruits of other men’s labors rather than put in the work to attain these things for themselves. Therefore, the possession of what honest work has acquired needs to be preserved, as does liberty and strength. This state of affairs leads men to enter into a society that by mutual assistance they may secure their property, liberty, and outward things pertaining to this life while providing a defense from external violence. This can hardly be thought of in negative terms.

What is not so easy to defend against is the inward threat of violence to the very fabric of society. For people who desire the overthrow of a particular society do not couch their intentions in plain terms, but rather they emphasize liberty and equality. Liberty and equality can be rightly used to change an unjust law or tradition in society and improve parts of society. But this is not the aim of these particular people. If their real intentions were known, the public would be aware of it and provide a defense against it.

It is curious that movements of “liberation from society” tend to emphasize group identity which gives rise to new traditions and conformities; and given enough power, these movements would replace the old tradition with a “tradition of the new”. And presumably, after a sufficient time has past when the “new society” has been established, another liberation movement would develop to oppose that culture. This attitude of “counter-culture” hinders the members of the movement from bargaining with the current society or the next one, or suggesting a new code of law to follow, or presenting a new constitution, or even demonstrating how their way is somehow better. This is not improvement. This is liberation for the sake of liberation, and speaks more of discontentment and envy than a sensible improvement in society. Instead, it is the dissolution of society in order to violate the protection of honest men’s possessions and make lawful the unlawful deeds of thieves. This is what lies behind slogans like “We are the 99%” in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

It is the duty of the civil officer to secure the just possession of the things belonging to this life and to execute laws equally and without partiality and to preserve the commonwealth. Therefore, words contrary to the main aim of society, which is each of its member’s well-being, and the moral rules which are necessary to the preservation of our well-being should not be tolerated by the civil officer. These words are doubly not to be tolerated when accompanied with actions that demonstrate violence toward rules of civilized society and indicate that on the occasion that they seize the government, they would possess themselves of the estates and fortunes of their fellow citizens thereby making insecure what we thought to secure in the first place: our money, lands, houses, and such like that we obtained with our hard work.

And what sense would it make to allow these harmful words or actions on the grounds of free speech? Individuals who enter into movements or groups of this nature admit implicitly that their allegiance lies not with their fellow citizens nor their protection or safety, but to another. For the civil officer to allow this, is to allow a kind of foreign jurisdiction in his own jurisdiction, and enlisted soldiers, as it were, against the people he is sworn to protect.

 

(picture from TheBlaze.com)

The Age of Manipulation

This is the age of information, but more like the bombardment of information. From the internet to the millions of books, everyone who can write wants their voice to be heard and given as much consideration as the millions of others who want to be heard. The public processes information too fast and with so much volume, it is hardly surprising that people know very little about a whole lot of subjects. In previous times when words and information were scarce, people put time and labor into their reading. The public, then, knew very well the value of every word and the implications that could be drawn from each one. Now, the public is pushed on every side by words. For each modern word touts an agenda and a bias. Feeling a responsibility to give every writer equal audience, the public gorges itself on more and more information. And just when it is just about to vomit, it forces more down its collective throat. As a consequence, the public has become indistinguishable from a lazy man who, because he cannot manage to govern himself, is manipulated not by the man with the wisest words, but by the man who speaks the most often.

Why Atheists sometimes lose effectiveness in Theistic discussions

Observed truth or truth we discover, is ultimately inadequate to affect absolute certainty within man. Having no deeper foundation other than our own fallible faculties, our beliefs must deliver a standing invitation to all competing ideas until all possibilities are exhausted. If, then, our beliefs stand, they can only hold certainty in the sense of having withstood all other ideas our current day and age can muster and for which we are able to understand. Thus, our beliefs can only hold a current temporary certainty while holding a respect for such a time in the future that mankind is able to obtain a greater understanding of those beliefs. Thus, absolute certainty can never be reached by mankind. It has the effect of silencing the free exchange of ideas and creating a tyranny upon other men who hold differing beliefs.

Truth, as a Being with person-hood, is entirely in the position to produce a greater degree of certainty within man than he could reach alone. For Truth, having personality, could relate with man, instruct, and cleanse man of error he could not have eliminated on his own. That is not to say that man would then have an infallible understanding of the truth. The best he could do is present to others a representation of this Truth-Being or a representation of some external truth the Being has communicated. The representation would still be subject to the fallible faculties of man and therefore must deliver the same standing invitation to other representations. Otherwise, tyranny will result. Furthermore, whatever refined beliefs man contains inside himself must be held in a progressive truth-seeking manner with a respect for some newer revelation communicated by this Truth-Being in the future. For it is absurd to believe that man has perfect understanding of truth the first time it is communicated to him.

Therefore, the only difference realized by man, either in truth discovered solely by man or truth received from this Truth-Being, is the deeper ground on which he stands when receiving communication from this Being. Those who criticize representations of this Being without standing in deeper ground themselves will compete with any self-authenticating witness this Being has produced inside the man standing on the deeper ground and will, thus, be only marginally effectual in an argument. Effectiveness can be obtained either by developing a greater understanding of the representations or moving onto deeper ground.

Evolutionary Contradiction

Can anyone find the contradiction in this picture?

Humans being a product of natural processes are being held responsible for their natural actions which pollute the world. Humans which were created by cause and effect brought about through natural mechanisms, cannot be held responsible for actions they have no control over. On the atheistic view, this is a natural product of the universe which seems to want to destroy itself through the actions of humans. There is no morality here, no obligation, just an observation of the natural outcome of the natural processes.

Let Truth grapple with Falsehood in the streets

 

Is there anything more basic than faith in the God of creation? Faith that he provided forgiveness and a way for us to be together? Indeed, many atheistic debaters say it is too simple. It’s when we use reason to describe him or what he wants that we have natural contention. To this, I say, “Bring it on.” Let truth grapple with falsehood in the streets. But, let us not bring our “isms” to the fight, these warped windows that we see the world through. Let us not use modernity as our foundation for argument, for it changes all the time. By all means, however, let the lies test the truth. The truth will be stronger as a result. But, let us not allow these things to corrupt our relationship with God. Once inferior ideas are understood to be inadequate, let us drop them and reject them as idols so that there is only the individual and God. If we are to stand before God and give an account, we will not be able to blame our “isms” or modern ideas. Faith saves In the end not reason, philosophy, theology, or intellect. This is the only equality that matters to mankind throughout history, the equal opportunity of faith in God to all people at all times. For no other equality reaches the eternal.

Shifting Sands

Where is the wisdom to basing our faith on the shifting sands of modern thinking? Modern knowledge itself is always changing. What we think we know now will be left behind in the future. So, whenever someone feels like nailing something down, they are ridiculed for losing relevance. Yet, if we are relevant, there is no knowledge we can claim, neither is there any wisdom to possess. As I see it, we have two choices here. We can believe in the God that stays the same and even claims to stay the same, or we can be blown about with the winds of change that human reason is so fond of. Where does faith fit in with shifting modern thought? No where. And real faith, if we are able to possess it, must be accessible to all times in human history and all peoples for that is the only way for God to make himself known to all generations. That modern people feel we must deconstruct it is a tragedy of the highest order, and severs the hope of a relationship between God and man.

Miley Cyrus Role Model

Miley is more precious and valuable in our eyes than some pop star that just arrived on the scene because we have lived with her as a young girl on TV for years. And some people are surprised at parent’s reactions to her “Who Owns My Heart” video. Why the reaction? We see her as more than a female body, we see her as a valuable person. If we really viewed all women the way we view Miley, we would be outraged at every provocative scene, just as we would if our daughters were on there. And they are on there! We think its OK to look at them as “meat” and mentally disrespect every part of their body. But they ARE our daughters. They are more valuable than anything and we don’t treat them as we should. We’ve been doing it for years.

“Let her do what she wants; if you don’t want your kids watching her videos or listening to her music, then don’t let them. It’s that simple.”

No, it’s not. There is no 100% way to censor what our children watch. Things like this Miley video will affect them whether we like it or not. If, by some miracle, they don’t see it, they will be affected by the people who do, in their fashion and in their attitude toward sexuality. The phrase, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it” just isn’t effective and is downright unreasonable in this day and age.

It’s unreasonable to expect 100% cencorship, especially now with this kind of information all over the internet. These ideas and actions infiltrate our schools and our children’s minds whether we want them to or not. “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.” – Does not work. It probably never did.

We can’t expect to instill the values we want if those values are undermined by everyone else.

Some say, “Why are these parent groups so shocked and incensed in the first place? This is pop music we are talking about and these are young women coming into the peak of their sexuality. It’s what sells in the American marketplace so it’s a no brainer to me.”

Miley has more of an impact on our teen girls than most other people her age. She is not the only factor by far, but she is still a contributing factor.

So she’s “coming into her sexuality”. Is she doing so properly by looking into a camera while laying on a bed half-clothed? Is this OK? We want our own daughters doing this? I know 17 year old girl that gave naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend, and I’m willing to bet that those pictures are now on the internet somewhere for anyone to see. Is this acceptable?

This doesn’t just affect girls, it affects men too. We’ve broken down the barriers to childhood sexuality and some men find themselves entertaining questions they wouldn’t have entertained before? “Is it really wrong to lust after a child or be sexually active with a child?” Don’t kid yourselves. They ARE thinking it. Hopefully, they don’t act on it, but at least some of their willpower is being broken down by society’s lower and lower standards of what’s acceptable for childhood sexual behavior and what’s OK to watch on TV.

Proclamation of Injustice

This post is in response to another post. Read this first to get the context: Click Here. It also has to do with this news story about an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning: Click Here

There are extremes for the religious and non-religious man which can never be reached. For the religious man it is complete adherence to the goodness and laws of God. He will always fall short. For the non-religious man it is individual liberty. He will always find himself constrained by what, to each individual, constitutes harm. Other people have quite different ideas about what part of your specific behavior concerns them or harms them. On one hand, society could define harm like Anthony Comstock and squelch even the most private immorality perceived to take place. The moral police would always be looking over your shoulders. On the other hand, if only physical or material injury counts as harm there could be no law against prostitution, public drunkenness, obscenity, indecent exposure, and so on. If expanding the sphere of liberty was always a “net gain”, so to speak, it would lead to the elimination of all law and restraints imposed by social disapproval, which is an unrealistic goal of individual liberty.

Now, what constitutes harm to this particular government, in this case, does not constitute harm to the commenters on this post. I’m inclined to agree with them. However, without an absolute, or at the very least, a unending universal standard by which to judge these actions as immoral, how can you impose your concept of harm on another person’s or government’s concept of harm. There is no reason why their opinions on that subject are not as valid as, or entitled to more weight than yours. Your assessment of their actions are still based on your own notions and opinions of right and wrong. This is where you draw the line. OK. Great. They draw the line at another place. If there is no absolute standard, then your definition of harm is just as valid as their definition of harm. What’s the difference if it’s all based on every individual’s or society’s line? By the way, making an unending universal standard leads to Communism, and that’s never been a successful government. Communism hinders individual liberty as well. The only real answer is one that exists outside of humanity. We need a mediator who knows what’s best of each of us. If he doesn’t exist, your proclamation of injustice can always be hindered by another man’s equally valid idea of justice.

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