The War Against Becoming Yourself

For years the phrase “You are not who you think you are,” has rattled around my brain.  I think I read of it in one of Tolle’s books.  If this phrase is true then who the hell am I? How do I begin to find out and understand the import of this small phrase?  Are there other who could lend a hand and some wisdom concerning this journey of finding out who I am?

I have learned that most of us care little about this  train of thought or little about any train of thought.  As long as they have beer, NFL, movies or some type of entertainment they seem to be content. I AM SURE AS HELL NOT!

In 1787, when the Constitution was drafted, a woman asked Ben Franklin what the founders had given the American people. ” A republic,” he shot back, “if you can keep it.” More than  two centuries later …………..how are we doing?????

Political Illusion

Has never been what it is advertised to be

Has never been what we were told in our youth

The Dark Nature of Man (and Women) creeping into our sacred public forum

Truth is on a holiday

Ethics has left the building

Care for one another is a painted on smile until the lights are turned off

The Age of Reason has abandoned us

The fly over people are screwed, only the coasts matter

Principles are attacked as narrow thinking

Tolerance is one-sided.

Dialogue is DEAD

Differing Opinions have been buried in the earth’s cold embrace

History is subjective, facts now do not matter

Are we doomed

Are we at Civilizations End

Who Will Write the History of The Good

Surely not the POLITICAL CLASS!

The Narrative Illusion

*What is your “narrative?”  If I hear this word one more time I believe my head will explode!  Everyone and everything must have a “narrative” today. Education, politics, Celebrity, Sports, Movies, the list is exhausting.

An image based culture communicates through narratives, pictures,  and pseudo drama.  Scandalous affairs, hurricanes, untimely death, train wrecks…these events play well on the computer screen and television.  International diplomacy, labor union negotiations, and convoluted bailout packages do not yield exciting  personal narratives or stimulating images.  A governor who frequents call girls becomes a huge new story. A politician who proposes serious regulatory reform or advocates curbing wasteful spending is boring. Kings, queens, and emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects.  Today cinematic, political, and journalistic celebrities  distract us with their personal problems and sports have become, as they were in Nero;s time interchangeable.  In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality.  Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion.  We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes, and inspirational messages that tell us  we can be whatever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious  and prosperous, either because of our own attributes or our national character or because we are blessed by God.

In this world, all that matters is the consistency of our belief systems.  The ability to amplify lies, to repeat the and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives lies and mythical narratives the aura of uncontested truth.  We become trapped in the linguistic prison of incessant repetition.  We are fed words and phrases like war on terror or pro-life or change, and within these narrow parameters, all complex thought, ambiguity, and self-criticism vanish!

*Chris Hedges

ANCIENT SPIRITUAL WISDOM

ON SOLITUDE

“Solitude is the place of purification and transformation, the place of the great struggle and the great encounter…..the place of our salvation.”

ON SILENCE

“First, silence makes us pilgrims. Secondly, silence guards the fire within.  Thirdly, silence teaches us to speak.”

ON PRAYER

“The pryaer of the heart opens the eyes of our soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God.  The prayer of the heart challenges us to hide absolutely nothing.”

*Henri J.M. Nouwen

Illusion of The Good News

In a few years we will celebrate the second millennium of the Christian Era.  But perhaps the question is:  “Will there be anything to celebrate?”  Daily we hear voices wanting to know if we can survive our own destructive nature.

As we see increasing poverty, hunger, the rapid escalation if violence and hatred in many countries including our own, we slowly realize that the world has begun a suicidal path.

It seems that the darkness is thicker then ever, that the powers of evil are more blatantly visible then ever…so what is the “‘Good News” in all of this?

During the last few years I have been wondering what it means to be a minister in such dire circumstances, were few see the Gospel as anything good or offering hope.  What is required of men and women who want to bring light into darkness…”to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty ti captives and to the blind new sight, to set those oppressed free?”  What is required  of a man or woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times in which we live and speak a word of truth?

In the coming days I will elaborate on this topic.  We will consider Solitude, Silence and The Furnace of Transformation!

The Illusion of Our Greatness

Recently I walked the early morning myst shrouded battlefield of Gettysburg. Silence, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier hushed the few of us striving to catch a glimpse of the past and a wisp of the future.  The grass was heavy with dew but our hearts were even heavier and broken for the loss this sacred battlefield inspired.

In the distance one could almost hear. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all mean are created equal.

Now we are engaged in great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure…………….

OUR GREATNESS LIES NOT

SO MUCH IN BEING ABLE

TO REMAKE THE WORLD,

AS IN BEING ABLE TOO

         REMAKE OURSELVES.-Gandhi

Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Cold War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq,?????

Can we remake ourselves and long endure?

Walk in Silence

I am finding that I have little to say or add to the conversations that engulf me daily!  I keep my own counsel, having little to add to the dialogue that would enhance or further it.  Most of it is does not need responding to anyway….

I do not need to respond to the thoughts about current entertainment figures, who add little or no value to our culture or who will survive which staged dramatic show.  But ask me how we as a people should learn from one another, why do we not learn from our failures, or why we ignore our failures, then we can share a glass and a meaningful thought or two.

Is there meaning to our brief time together on this planet?  If so how do we make the most of it? Questions like this use to spur people to think, oh damn, there is that word….THINK, the thing that our homes, schools, universities, employment and life was suppose to challenge us to do….IT HAS BECOME A LONELY WORLD FOR ONE TO BE REFLECTIVE AND TAKE THE TIME TO THINK, TO ACT  AND NOT FOLLOW THE BEATEN PATH TRODDEN BY THE MANY BEFORE THEM…

IT SEEMS THE TIME IS QUICKLY COMING THE THERE IS TO BE A PRICE TO PAY……

The Battle Not Seen

A good friend of mine this week withdrew from the field of battle not in defeat, but to regroup and fight another day. She is an exceptional teacher, person and gift to the field of learning.

38 years she has taught in pubic schools. Part time as a Reading Intervention Specialist. Her passion is Reading and kids and watching them succeed and they do consistently! Regardless of testing, testing, and more testing!

She has as we all do battle the forces of medioctiy, incompetence, lack of leadership, no accountability, poor if any planning, abysmal communication.

Currently we rank in the bottom 5% of the state with our all important Test Scores, and have for several years.  The answer….you bet..more Testing and let’s even tie our Teacher Evaluation to our students scores…BRILLIANT.   Even so State Education come quickly and relieve us of this misery with even more incompetant misery as were are sure to be taken over by you as our leaders blindly leads us to the awaiting educational abyss.

Illusions of Technology

Technology has become the structure of our inner most thoughts and feelings.  Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication and relationships. However the constant never ending connections leads us to a new type of solitude.  As technology controls more of our lives, our emotional lives are less vivid and fulfilling. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle is a result of years of research and study exploring lives on the digital world.  It describes new unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents and children, and the new instabilities in how we understand privacy, community, intimacy and solitude.

This was brought home to me in a conversation with a friend of mine.  While traveling, he related a story concerning his grandson and his “girlfriend.”  The phone rings and the young man looks to see who the caller is, seeing that it is his girl friend, the young man hangs up and precedes to text her.  My friend is bewildered by this behavior and asks his grandson why he did not just talk with her. His response was, that he did not want deal with all the “drama.”

Do we expect more from technology and less from on another?

Clearing The Fog of Illusions

Reflection, Questions, Thoughts that come unbidden in the middle of the night, others thoughts you have come across, a mingling of both.  We stand on the shoulders and are immersed in a crowd of Thinkers and People of ideas that have traveled this path before us!

Come let us share this path together!

Three Pillars of ZEN

  1. Great Faith
  2. Great Courage
  3. Great Questioning

Viktor Frankel’s Questions?

  1.  What is life asking of you?
  2. What is this situation asking of me?
  3. It is more freedom to rather than freedom from.
  4. It is definitely an Inside-out rather than an Outside-in approach.

Transformational Figures

Those who break with the past cultural mindless patterns of BEHAVIORAL  and ATTITUDES.

A PEOPLE WILL BE GOVERNED BY FORCE OR BY THE WILL OF THEIR OWN HEARTS!

Illusion of Governance

“Now we see the sad fruits your faults produced, Feel the blows you have yourselves induced.”   -Racine

America feels broken!  The effects of our great disillusionment is typically measured within the confines of the news cycles: how they impact the President’s popularity, which political party they benefit and which they hurt.

WE THE PEOPLE….not sure that it exist or even if it ever existed. In 4th grade we learned about Texas history including how our government was created and functioned.  In the 5th. grade while living to Oklahoma, we were taught Oklahoma history, how government was created and how it was to function.   As an adult we learned what a crock it all was!  Was there or will there ever be WE THE PEOPLE.

Not with the current and past several administrations and political elite redefining each day how governance should function, usually to their advantage! Tax codes, capital gain tax, Health Care the list goes on and on, ..FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE.

Recently an article was published instructing us that 2% of the people in the US considered gun control a major issue, instead they  considered the economy, jobs and meaningful health care more important, but what do the flyover states know about anything.

Most of us see the nation’s problems either as the result of the policies favored by those who occupy the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, or an outgrowth of political dysfunction: of gridlock, “bickering,” and the increasing polarization among both the electorate (THE PEOPLE), and the representatives (Political Elite) it elects.

Perhaps it is time for WE THE PEOPLE, to turn off the stream of senseless media, and pay attention to what is going on in our country. To educate ourselves with something other than, the kardashians, big brother, the never ending sports channels you fill in the blank.

Perhaps talk to one another, put down the all consuming phone and connect to the REAL world, before it goes away!

Be of Good Cheer

 

Illusions of Social Justice

  1. justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
    “individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”

What exactly is the difference between Justice and social justice?  One appears to adhere to the Rule of Law and the other seems to be dictated by the whatever a group of people think for feel is just.

A good example is the growing minority of students who believe that they have the right to be free from being offended or criticized.  They need to wear some type of protective gear in case they bump into someone with an opposing view. That type of think in unworthy of someone going to college or claiming to be an adult.

YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO UNOFFENDED.  It is the price you and I pay for living in a free society.  If you do not understand this unique American concept, you are confused and dangerous, or graduated from one of the many great high school across this vast country.  You failed if were taught to grasp the basics of  civics if it was offered at your school.  It take a lot of hard work and thinking to arrive at the conclusion that the Declaration of Independence is unconstitutional.

Social Justice Warriors- wow, someone who think he or she is right to take what you have worked for and give it to others just because they think it is not fair…OMG. I believe in helping my fellow man, charity, giving to others in need…that being the key “in need.”  But the path that we are headed down in not sustainable.

“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”
                                                               ~Abraham Lincoln

Philosophy and the Good Book

Why We Shouldn’t Hate Philosophy

Article contributed by Probe Ministries

Probe’s Michael Gleghorn explains that thinking critically about some of life’s most important questions is a way for us to fulfill the biblical mandate to love God with our minds.

A Walk on the Slippery Rocks

For many people in our culture today, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians got it right: “Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks.” But for some in the Christian community, they didn’t go far enough. Philosophy, they say, is far more dangerous than a walk on slippery rocks. It’s an enemy of orthodoxy and a friend of heresy. It’s typically a product of wild, rash, and uncontrolled human speculation. Its doctrines are empty and deceptive. Worse still, they may even come from demons!

Such attitudes are hardly new. The early church father Tertullian famously wrote:

What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy, the Christian with the heretic? . . . I have no use for a Stoic or a Platonic . . . Christianity. After Jesus Christ we have no need of speculation, after the Gospel no need of research.1

Should Christians, then, hate and reject all philosophy? Should we shun it, despise it, and trample it underfoot? Doesn’t the Bible warn us about the dangers of philosophy and urge us to avoid it? In thinking through such questions, it’s important that we be careful. Before we possibly injure ourselves with any violent, knee-jerk reactions, we may first want to settle down a bit and ask ourselves a few questions. First, what exactly is philosophy anyway? What, if anything, does the Bible have to say about it? Might it have any value for the Christian faith? Could it possibly help strengthen or support the ministry of the church? Are there any potential benefits that Christians might gain from studying philosophy? And if so, what are they? These are just a few of the questions that we want to consider.

But let’s begin with that first question: Just what is philosophy anyway? Defining this term can be difficult. It gets tossed around by different people in a variety of ways. But we can get a rough idea of its meaning by observing that it comes from two Greek words: philein, which means “to love,” and sophia, which means “wisdom.” So at one level, philosophy is just the love of wisdom. There’s nothing wrong with that!

But let’s go further. Socrates claimed that the unexamined life was not worth living. And throughout its history, philosophy has gained a reputation for the careful, rational, and critical examination of life’s biggest questions. “Accordingly,” write Christian philosophers J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, “philosophy may be defined as the attempt to think rationally and critically about life’s most important questions in order to obtain knowledge and wisdom about them.”2 So while philosophy may sometimes be a walk on slippery rocks, it may also be a potentially powerful resource for thinking through some of life’s most important issues.

Beware of Hollow and Deceptive Philosophy

In their recent philosophy textbook, Moreland and Craig make the following statement:

For many years we have each been involved, not just in scholarly work, but in speaking evangelistically on university campuses with groups like . . . Campus Crusade for Christ . . . Again and again, we have seen the practical value of philosophical studies in reaching students for Christ. . . The fact is that there is tremendous interest among unbelieving students in hearing a rational presentation and defense of the gospel, and some will be ready to respond with trust in Christ. To speak frankly, we do not know how one could minister effectively in a public way on our university campuses without training in philosophy.3

This is a strong endorsement of the value of philosophy in doing university evangelism on today’s campuses. But some might be thinking, “What a minute! Doesn’t the Bible warn us about the dangers of philosophy? And aren’t we urged to avoid such dangers?”

In Colossians 2:8 (NIV), the apostle Paul wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” What does this verse mean? Is Paul saying that Christians shouldn’t study philosophy? Let’s take a closer look.

First, “the Greek grammar indicates that ‘hollow and deceptive’ go together with ‘philosophy.’”4 So Paul is not condemning all philosophy here. Instead, he’s warning the Colossians about being taken captive by a particular “hollow and deceptive” philosophy that was making inroads into their church. Many scholars believe that the philosophy Paul had in mind was a Gnostic-like philosophy that promoted legalism, mysticism, and asceticism.5

Second, Paul doesn’t forbid the study of philosophy in this verse. Rather, he warns the Colossian believers not to be taken captive by empty and deceptive human speculation. This distinction is important. One can study philosophy, even “empty and deceptive” philosophy, without being taken captive by it.

What does it mean to be “taken captive”? When men are taken captive in war, they are forced to go where their captors lead them. They may only be permitted to see and hear certain things, or to eat and sleep at certain times. In short, captives are under the control of their captors. This is what Paul is warning the Colossians about. He’s urging them to not let their beliefs and attitudes be controlled by an alien, non-Christian philosophy. He’s not saying that philosophy in general is bad or that it’s wrong to study philosophy as an academic discipline.

But doesn’t Paul also say that God has made foolish the wisdom of the world? And doesn’t this count against the study of philosophy?

Is Worldly Wisdom Worthless?

In 1 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV) the apostle Paul wrote, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Some Christians think this passage teaches that the study of philosophy and human wisdom is both foolish and a waste of time. But is this correct? Is that really what Paul was saying in this passage? I personally don’t think so.

We must remember that Paul himself had at least some knowledge of both pagan philosophy and literature — and he made much use of reasoning in personal evangelism. In Acts 17 we learn that while Paul was in Athens “he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (v. 17; NIV). On one occasion he spent time conversing and disputing with some of the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers (v. 18). Further, when it suited his purposes, Paul could quote freely (and accurately) from the writings of pagan poets. In Acts 17:28 he cites with approval both the Cretan poet Epimenides and the Cilician poet Aratus, using them to make a valid theological point about the nature of God and man to the educated members of the Athenian Areopagus. Thus, we should at least be cautious before asserting that Paul was opposed to all philosophy and human wisdom. He obviously wasn’t.

But if this is so, then in what sense has God made foolish the wisdom of the world? What did Paul mean when he wrote this? The answer, I think, can be found (at least in part) in the very next verse: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21; NASB). In other words, as Craig and Moreland observe, “the gospel of salvation could never have been discovered by philosophy, but had to be revealed by the biblical God who acts in history.”6 This clearly indicates the limitations of philosophy and human wisdom. But the fact that these disciplines have very real limitations in no way implies that they are utterly worthless. We need to appreciate something for what it is, recognizing its limitations, but appreciating its value all the same. Philosophy by itself could never have discovered the gospel. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not still a valuable ally in the search for truth and a valuable resource for carefully thinking through some of life’s greatest mysteries.

In the remainder of this article, we’ll explore some of the ways in which philosophy is valuable, both for the individual Christian and for the ministry of the church.

The Value of Philosophy (Part 1)

Moreland and Craig observe that “throughout the history of Christianity, philosophy has played an important role in the life of the church and the spread and defense of the gospel of Christ.”7

John Wesley, the famous revivalist and theologian, seemed well-aware of this fact. In 1756 he delivered “An Address to the Clergy”. Among the various qualifications that Wesley thought a good minister should have, one was a basic knowledge of philosophy. He challenged his fellow clergymen with these questions: “Am I a tolerable master of the sciences? Have I gone through the very gate of them, logic? . . . Do I understand metaphysics; if not the . . . subtleties of . . . Aquinas, yet the first rudiments, the general principles, of that useful science?”8 It’s interesting to note that Wesley’s passion for preaching and evangelism didn’t cause him to denigrate the importance of basic philosophical knowledge. Indeed, he rather insists on its importance for anyone involved in the teaching and preaching ministries of the church.

But why is philosophy valuable? What practical benefits does it offer those involved in regular Christian service? And how has it contributed to the health and well-being of the church throughout history? Drs. Moreland and Craig list many reasons why philosophy is (and has been) such an important part of a thriving Christian community.9

In the first place, philosophy is of tremendous value in the tasks of Christian apologetics and polemics. Whereas the goal of apologetics is to provide a reasoned defense of the truth of Christianity, “polemics is the task of criticizing and refuting alternative views of the world.”10 Both tasks are important, and both are biblical. The apostle Peter tells us to always be ready “to make a defense” for the hope that we have in Christ (1 Pet. 3:15; NASB). Jude exhorts us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3; NASB). And Paul says that elders in the church should “be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Tit. 1:9; NASB). The proper use of philosophy can be a great help in fulfilling each of these biblical injunctions.

Additionally, philosophy serves as the handmaid of theology by bringing clarity and precision to the formulation of Christian doctrine. “For example, philosophers help to clarify the different attributes of God; they can show that the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation are not contradictory; they can shed light on the nature of human freedom, and so on.”11 In other words, the task of the theologian is made easier with the help of his friends in the philosophy department!

The Value of Philosophy (Part 2)

Let’s consider a few more ways in which philosophy can help strengthen and support both the individual believer and the universal church.

First, careful philosophical reflection is one of the ways in which human beings uniquely express that they are made in the image and likeness of God. As Drs. Craig and Moreland observe, “God . . . is a rational being, and humans are made like him in this respect.”12 One of the ways in which we can honor God’s commandment to love him with our minds (Matt. 22:37) is to give serious philosophical consideration to what God has revealed about himself in creation, conscience, history, and the Bible. As we reverently reflect on the attributes of God, or His work in creation and redemption, we aren’t merely engaged in a useless academic exercise. On the contrary, we are loving God with our minds—and our hearts are often led to worship and adore the One “who alone is immortal and . . . lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16; NIV).

But philosophy isn’t only of value for the individual believer; it’s also of value for the universal church. Commenting on John Gager’s book, Kingdom and Community: The Social World of Early Christianity, Drs. Moreland and Craig write:

The early church faced intellectual and cultural ridicule from Romans and Greeks. This ridicule threatened internal cohesion within the church and its evangelistic boldness toward unbelievers. Gager argues that it was primarily the presence of philosophers and apologists within the church that enhanced the self-image of the Christian community because these early scholars showed that the Christian community was just as rich intellectually and culturally as was the pagan culture surrounding it.13

Christian philosophers and apologists in our own day continue to serve a similar function. By carefully explaining and defending the Christian faith, they help enhance the self-image of the church, increase the confidence and boldness of believers in evangelism, and help keep Christianity a viable option among sincere seekers in the intellectual marketplace of ideas.

Of course, not all philosophy is friendly to Christianity. Indeed, some of it is downright hostile. But this shouldn’t cause Christians to abandon the task and (for some) even calling of philosophy. The church has always needed, and still needs today, talented men and women who can use philosophy to rationally declare and defend the Christian faith to everyone who asks for a reason for the hope that we have in Christ (1 Pet. 3:15). As C.S. Lewis once said, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”14 These are just a few of the reasons why we shouldn’t hate philosophy.