Tag Archives: Religion

“There is no straw.”

We see it.  I know we see it.  What’s more, we feel it.  Something is incredibly wrong in this country of ours.  The U.S. of A. has taken a turn.  This turn is a culmination of poor decisions on the part of… well, almost everyone.  Our borders are not secure.  Our currency is suffering.  We are a nation of debtors living in a debtor nation.  Our morality has become laughable.  Common sense is gone.  Our “representatives” in government; whether in the House, Senate, or White House no longer represent us.  People who work hard, and/or work smart, and accumulate wealth are scorned and ridiculed, while those on welfare are strangely pitied and praised at the same time, being held up as political pundits that we should listen to, or be amused by.

And yet we wait.  We wait for the “last straw” we wait for it to break the camel’s back.  “What is it going to be?” we wonder.  Is it going to be a stock market crash so severe we all wake up?  Is it going to be another terrorist attack on our soil?  Will it be a natural disaster of epic proportions? Viral outbreak?  A leader so awful we all rise up?

And then it hits me; there is no straw.  We want a straw… we want something sooo definitive that we finally break into action, rally, come together as Americans and put things right.  So, we wait, and wait, and wait.  This is not a straw situation, rather it is a frog in the pot situation.  Folks, the change has happened so slow we grow accustomed to it.  Yes, we notice it in passing, but we don’t act on it.

It’s time.  We each have an impact on our nation.  It starts with us.  With a firm idea of who we are.  We are made in the very image of God Himself.  We all live in relation with other people; friends, co-workers, parents, kids, spouses, students, teachers, etc… we make a change in our nation by making a change in our lives.  Parents raise up your kids.  YOU. Teach them right from wrong, proper patriotism, not blind group think but true patriotism that shows them what the founding fathers intended for this nation founded explicitly on Judeo-Christian values, teach them the bible, the declaration of independence, and the constitution.

Spouses, love one another, serve one another, become strong in the Lord so that you can stand against the tide of negative changes, and help your spouse stand.  Come to understand that you have to get involved in politics if you currently care about this country.  We cannot sit on the sidelines.  It is our right as citizens of the U.S. to let our minds be heard, to share opinion especially if it is rooted in our religion.  The founders did it, they protected the right of us to do so, with the expectation that we would pay attention and do our moral duty to the nation.  You want to make a an impact to your fellow humans, the time to take action is now.

There is no straw.  Toss the kool-aid out, quit wasting away in front of the TV, get off your butt, see to your own health, the health of your loved ones, of your town, of your state, and of your country.  Do what you can in your own life.  You have the power.  Bow your knee to God, pledge to serve those He wants you to serve, and quit waiting.

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Filed under Christianity, Health, Musings, Of Interest, Religion and Politics

Ayn Rand; Brilliant? Fool? Both? pt. 1

As a philosophy instructor I’ve of course learned and taught about Ayn Rand, but only recently have I really looked at her, as a person, instead of “just” the philosophy she adopted as her own and presented to the public.  Ayn had a lot of interesting philosophies, and many of those philosophies have a place in our current society, and could even be embraced by Christians; however, Ayn also had many personal and psychological issues that get in the way of her own philosophy.

Contrary to Ayn’s own apparent belief, her philosophy had been around for thousands of years before she was born; her objectivism wasn’t so much a new philosophy, as it was a mix of philosophies that could be found in the annals of philosophy that came before her.  She also lacked a logical basis for her philosophy, though that idea would insult her very much.

First, a run down of what “objectivism” is, according to Ayn. Objectivism is espoused to be an answer to subjectivism.  Objectivists like Ayn believe that our senses actually and accurately inform us about reality.  Human logic stands in for God (which is an illogical position that I’ll address later); meaning Ayn believed that human reason alone could result in absolutes.  For example, we can rationally conceive of a morality totally defined via human reason and have it be absolute.

One of the hallmarks of Ayn’s morality was the idea of selfishness; that selfishness is morally right.  She was fond of bashing (and misunderstanding) altruism, as well as Christianity. And, the one big thing we’ve heard recently because of the state of our economy and country; she pushed for laissez-faire capitalism with extraordinarily limited gov’t interference in the business world.

Ayn’s philosophies never caught on in any academic sphere.  One reason; she disliked academics, so there was her strike against the liberals.  She disliked religion and denied there was a God, so there was her strike against the conservatives.  She effectively cut off both routes to respect and implementation of her philosophies (this is important because one reason she wrote what she did when she did was to try to change the directions of the U.S.).  While her philosophies are popular amongst college/high school students, it is her stories that are popular amongst the “common folk” whom she often complained did not understand the deeper implications of her work.

Surprisingly enough, Ayn was anti-feminist and anti-homosexual, finding both positions to be immoral and disgusting.  She had odd ideas about sex and sexuality that are apparent just by reading her fiction stories.  To be a “good” objectivist was to believe that it was the man’s place to be worshiped, and a woman’s place to be submissive and to be owned.  Authors tend to write themselves into certain characters and by reading Ayn’s descriptions of her female characters, we can see a common thread that is both sad and disturbing.  I intend to take a look at this in my next blog post as well as discussing her take on altruism and morality.

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Filed under Atheism, Logic, Of Interest, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion and Politics

Claims about Truth freak people out…

There is a way to make a more scholarly statement on this topic, but the title is pretty much the bottom line.  I’ve realized this for a while, but never really mulled it over seriously…modern peoples are freaked out by truth claims, especially religious truth claims.  Now, I’m not limiting this to non-believers, but yes, I’ve picked up on this vibe from the non-believing individuals I’ve talked to often.

If you make a claim of truth or knowledge, often your discussion partner acts as though you’ve slapped them in the face.  I have to admit that it amuses me, even though it shouldn’t.  I recently had a back and forth with an atheist on a forum; our back and forth regarded the phrase, “I know.”

I was informed quite seriously that I cannot use that phrase, that it is inaccurate.  I got quite a chuckle out of that.  I informed them that English is my first (and only) language, and that it can indeed be used accurately, “I know I’m not feeling hungry right now,” “I know one of my nicknames is Kliska,” “I know that I had a turkey sandwich for lunch,” “I know that Jesus is Lord,” “I know that I have a pond in my yard,” “I know that my house is white,” and on, and on…

I feel our society is partially to blame for this shock and amazement…everything is so “wishy-washy” anymore.  A majority of the people don’t even bother to try to get the know the truth about themselves, esp. when the truth hurts, let alone the truth about anything or anyone else.  Parents are beginning to lose their knack at parenting (have you noticed that?), part of which stems from a lack of consistency, which could be connected to a denial of the existence of truth; plain good ol’ black and white truth that back up the idea of true right and true wrong.  The truth in our society has become negotiable.  Morality has become negotiable.  Tell someone that it isn’t and you get stared at like you have two heads, esp. in the realm of Religion.

If a Muslim tells me he knows that Muhammad is a prophet, I don’t  get upset.  I don’t agree with the Muslim, but I don’t get upset that the Muslim is making a truth claim.  I can’t say the same for the majority of humanity, however…or I guess I should say, the majority of “Westerners.”  Make a claim, “I know for a fact that Jesus is Lord, and He’s the only way to the Father” and you are likely to cause mass panic, unfortunately this can also be seen amongst my fellow “Christians” as well (I put “Christians” in quotes for dramatic effect, I cannot judge their salvational standing, it’s not my job).  It is getting far less popular a thing to make any sort of truth claim in religion.

What has struck me, is how they must have looked at Jesus when He made the very bold, but very true claim, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Not only did He claim to know the truth, He claimed to be the walking, talking, eating, drinking embodiment of Truth itself.  I’ve said it before, “how I love the Lord!”  There is no wishy-washy here, no beating around the bush.  You know precisely who and what you are dealing with.

I’m comforted by the fact that God has a preference for this style of truth and communication of truth, and that He expects us, and likes us to use “I know.”  Revelation 3: 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Anywho, just a few musings on a very windy day, “I know it is windy at my house today…”

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Filed under Humor, Musings, Philosophy

Another example of how Atheism is a religion…

Uncommon Descent posted this bit about Adam Rutherford’s comments on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life: Adam Rutherford on his atheists’ Holy Book.

I blogged in the past about the religious overtones of Atheism, and how those within it’s own ranks even see the connection, though are usually loathe to admit it.   Church of the New Atheists was my previous post, which explores the odd idea of Atheist “church,” and the fact that many atheists, especially online, love to proselytize their religion.

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Filed under Atheism, Origins

Television and the Human Psyche…

It is inevitable; television shows, plots, characters, etc… will affect society.  We are a culture that absorbs a lot of information from the television set, both good and bad information, accurate and falsified, reality based and dramatized.

I’ve noticed a trend in my college students…and that is picking majors based upon television shows.  No, I’m not kidding.  And here is the problem with that.  Television shows of the kind I’m talking about are dramatizations of real life, not real life itself.  Shows like CSI, Bones, Law & Order, etc… are held up as reasons why some of my students are pursuing certain majors.

Now, this is all well  and good if the students 1) realize that the shows are dramatized and 2) realize to incredible amount of work and formal education it takes to be, oh, I don’t know, a forensic investigator for example.  As it stands, these TV shows make certain jobs look far more glamorous than the really are, and often do not include the downsides of the jobs at hand.  Students get hyped up and then when they realize these things, it’s like a pin being stuck in a balloon.

And it isn’t just college kids and career choices.  Here is how I wound up writing about TV and the human  psyche for this blog; I was watching Fox News this morning, and they discussed a research finding.  People in one study reported switching from the Christian faith to practicing Wicca (especially women) because of…wait for it; Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, there’s nothing like picking a religion based on a television show.  Forget truth, serious study, and conviction, go with a TV show, because if it is hip and cool for Willow, it’s hip and cool for me.  I would love to see the actual study and the questions asked.

Folks, it is up to each of us to use those critical thinking skills when it comes to this stuff.  I’m definitely not against television by any means, as my readers know by now…but we need to make sure that we have our feet firmly grounded in reality and don’t make life decisions solely based upon a television show that we happen to like.  Can it be one of the factors we consider, can we be inspired by things on TV?  Absolutely…there are examples of people watching things like Star Trek and being motivated to get involved in the space program, or watching medical dramas and deciding they’d like to help people.

The problem comes in when we allow the TV to give us unrealistic pictures and ideas about aspects of life that are radically different than those portrayed on television; romantic love, life and death situations, careers, religion, parenthood, etc…  Always check ideas garnered from the small screen (and the silver screen) against real-life, and don’t abandon logic and reason in decision making.

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Filed under Conversion, Of Interest, Sacred Secular

Finding the sacred in the mundane…

Some people, even some denominations as a whole, are better at recognizing that everything we do can include faith and an understanding that God is with us at all times.  One of the keys of this is finding meaning in all the mundane things we must do in this life.

I’m always reminded of the Shakers, who were so mindful of the fact that God sees all and is everywhere, that they would even take the time and effort to finish the back sides of drawers in a set of chest-of-drawers.  The part of a drawer that most humans would never see is built and finished just as beautifully as the front.  It is really neat if you get a chance to see it, and is one reason why true Shaker furniture is sought after.

If one makes that into a legalistic issue, then it fails to be “sacred;” however, if one sees what they did as a metaphor, it is a wonderful thought.

Paul tells us, Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Notice what it says; whatsoever you do.  Whatsoever.  If you are taking out the garbage, if you are washing dishes, if you are cooking, or jogging, or walking the dog.  In our minds should always be a reminder; believers are servants of Christ, we answer to no other master.  As such, if we are mindful of that fact, as long as we are doing what He’d have of us; such as taking care of our families, than we are actually serving Him in the mundane.

I have a slight…wellllll…not so slight problem with certain preachers that go on  and on trying to get a mass of people hyped up over going to be missionaries, and acting as though that is the ultimate thing that you can be called to do, and if you aren’t over somewhere risking your life, then it is meaningless before God.  Not so.  Not everyone is called to such a life, not in the least.

We are each unique, and God does not call us all the same.  Yes, there are general guidelines and expectations, but as far as living out our lives, even in the mundane, we should have an “ear” to God to figure out what He wants us to do.  If God tells you to stay home and raise your kids, and you do so, that is answering His call in a sacred way just as much as someone who is called to missions and goes.

Faith isn’t about us outdoing one another, it is about hearkening to God in our own lives.  Part of that is recognizing that those mundane tasks we all “love” so much may just be seen as sacred, if we are indeed answering God’s call.  Laundry, dishes, dusting, scrubbing toilets, teaching, mining, fishing, waiting on tables…they become much more meaningful, and bearable, if we find the “sacred” aspect of them in serving God.  Remember; whatsoever you do, do it as unto the Lord; it is Him we serve.

Is it easy to keep this in mind? Not in the least.  We literally cannot remember it all the time, somethings get too frustrating or overwhelming, but we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us remember these things, especially when we are just reflecting on the day, or getting ready for it.  And, it is one of those things that we have to be constantly reminding ourselves, because the “mundane” is labeled so for a reason.  It is far easier to live out if we are doing something “spectacular” in the eyes of other humans…but we are not their servants, we are His…and when we are His, anything He urges us to do, and we do with the help of the Spirit, becomes spectacular.

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Filed under Sacred Secular, Theology

We are not as we should be…

The human condition, the “old man” or “old nature,” original sin, the fall of man…some of these concepts are deep theological issues.  But, the underlying idea is one that most of us grasp fairly easily.

There is a line in a song by Switchfoot, Meant to Live, that captures the point:

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

We were meant to live for so much more…

Most of humanity sees that humans are indeed meant to be “more.”  Sure, every now and then we glimpse something either in ourselves, or in another human that “clicks,” where a human seems more…truly human…an act of selflessness, an act of physical near-perfection, someone in a state of peace, etc… but, even during these rare moments we don’t get to see within others, and are mostly even blind to our own inner workings.

I often ask my students a question just to get them thinking, or talking, that lets me get to know them a bit better (or lets them get to know themselves…). One light-hearted question I ask is, “If you could choose one super power what would it be?”  Every now and then I get someone who says, “I’d want to be able to read other people’s minds.”

But, would one really want to be able to do that?  We see people’s actions clear enough, but we often don’t actually glimpse someone’s true mind, heart, or soul; it’s even hard for us to “see” our true selves most of time.  The human mind is not often a pleasant place to peer into…

Every aspect of a human was and is affected by the fall; Adam and Eve’s slip from perfection, their sin paved the way for all kinds of troubles.  We are affected physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc…

First, our minds and wills were affected, Paul says it best, Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do

I don’t care what your religious persuasion, all humans go through this in their lives.  There are certain things that we know are the right things to do, yet we cannot make ourselves do them, for whatever reason.  Same thing on the other side of the coin; there are things we know that we should not do, and yet we persist.

Second, our hearts.  You take the most “innocent” acting amongst us, and they are just as capable of devising something “wrong” as anyone else, even if they don’t carry it out.  This is no surprise as none of us are righteous on our own.  Not one of us.  Our hearts comprise more than just our actions.  Genesis 8:21…for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.

There are some really “good” kids out there; well behaved, sweet, loving, etc… but if we adults are completely honest, we know that there is no perfect child, esp. when it comes to morality.  Lying is one thing that fascinates me, for example.  You work with a child to teach them language, and how to communicate, you work hard teaching them how to hold a spoon, etc… buy lying is amazing, you, as a parent, don’t even have to teach lying, it just happens.  There are those that even come right out and say that lying is a part of normal human development, and that is just one example.

Third, the physical aspect of humans was affected as well.  The evidence of this has impacted each and every one of us at some point.  We become sick, some humans are born with physical abnormalities, our DNA can get messed up, we grow old, we die.

CS Lewis once talked about evidence that we are more than our mortal bodies.  And I have, unfortunately, come to understand what he was referring to through many first hand examples.  When we look at a dead body, even children notice this, it isn’t as though we are looking at the person.  It does indeed look like an empty shell that the person inhabited.  “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body,” is one way that Lewis phrased it.  We are indeed immortal beings, and are often made uneasy by death, or, even dead human bodies.  But, as I was saying, even those of us that aren’t make uneasy can clearly observe the difference between a living body and a dead one; the soul has flown the coop.

Finally, our spiritual state was affected as well; how could it not be?  We had, in Adam and Eve, direct access to God; He walked with them, talked with them, formed them Himself.  There was no sin to mar the relationship.  We also know that every aspect of man affects the other aspects; they are all interconnected; the physical affects the mental, affects the emotions…the spiritual affects the emotions, affects the physical, etc…

I’ve met people that deny the fall…yet, they can clearly see and agree that we humans are not as we should be.  They appear to be in a state of denial about a “theological” issue, but are perfectly fine with it when rephrased in a more secular manner…yet more evidence for the fall of man?  Despite these things, and the clear evidence that we humans are presently flawed, there is indeed hope…hope in Christ that we humans can truly become more, as we were meant to be.  I’ll be touching upon ideas that go along with this in the near future.

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Filed under Apologetics, Philosophy, Theology