Dark Shadows in the City of God or, What I Saw in Mexico (excerpt)


DSC01482I’ve come across some journal writings of a young man that I know, we’ll simply call him Matthew (or Matt). Born to a successful family, he began a job in the finance field after graduating college. He felt unfulfilled in all that he was doing, so he decided to venter into Mexico. The few times he went in college were typically Spring Break trips, visiting the tourist areas of Mexico. He decided to go last year and visit what he calls “real Mexico,” the part that tourists don’t get to visit. 

His journal entries are interesting. I’m sure some of this is written creatively and even Matt might be a part of the creative fiction, but every good story must mix a bit of fiction and truth, for that is the recipe of art. Thus, I present to you his journal, fragmented though it may be.  Continue reading

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I Dream of a Reality to Escape Reality or, The Futility of Consumption


DSC02097Tumbling down the hole of existence

What is the point of it all

Information overload and told a purpose

Still I stumble, tumble, and fall

 

Do I exist simply to exist

Is there a point beyond pleasure

Oh for simpler times I long

To return to a life without measure

 

The simple summer days of youth

Innocence uncorrupted by life

Free from the struggles of today

Free from an adulthood of strife

 

A gilded view of my past I see

A utopia that never was

Life is a fight against the absurd

Perhaps we exist just because

 

“Hear me!” my generation cries with a roar

And yet we have nothing to say

To live is our dream, our goal

But we are afraid to seize the day

 

We are educated for jobs and not callings

To become better consumers and not humans

The life of consumption is not worth living

Personal peace and affluence but a numen

 

I set off into the unknown

I reject your world of consumption

I cannot spend my life spending

I must look past corporate assumption

 

A rebellion of peaceful creativity

Against it all my soul remains

But I awake and look around

I am still in my cultural chains

 

Into the woods I wish I could go

To offer up a greater resistance

Yet, I find myself consumed by the machine

Tumbling down the hole of existence

Morning Must Come


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A big beautiful ball of life
Adrift in an ocean of black
Surrounded by an expanse of strife
Yet here a lack of nothing where nothing lacks

Chaos found a way to this blue haven
Where man kills his brother
Simplicity we have forsaken
And sell our humanity for a dollar

Do we cherish this tiny island of hope
Or toss it away to busy lives and waste
We traverse down a destructive slope
But beauty is something for which we have taste

Man will one day awake anew
To a world familiar yet unseen
He will embrace the love he always knew
And eternally rest in creation redeemed

The day will be brighter but not hot
We shall all laugh and play
An eternal holiday for the wearied heart
How we all anticipate that day

Toil now on his earth
Let the sweat pour until reckoning
For it all has eternal worth
When we shall leave this night for morning

Who Wears the Pants? or, The Purpose of Marriage


bridegroom1It seems that American evangelicals – conservative, liberal, emerging, and otherwise – are obsessed over the roles between husband and wife within marriage. In one corner (the typically conservative corner) we have Complementarianism, the belief that the roles of husband and wife compliment each other, which is to say that the husband is the authority and the wife submits. In the other corner (the typically liberal corner) we have Egalitarianism, the belief that the roles of husband and wife are equal, which is to say that the husband and wife share authority within the home and neither has authority over the other. The problem with the debate, however, is that it’s framed incorrectly, thus both sides end up missing the point and hold erroneous conclusions.

When forming an argument if you begin with a false premise then your conclusion will also be false and the argument invalid. In the debate between complementarians and egalitarians, both sides tend to begin with a faulty premise, namely that there is to be authority within a marriage. From the idea, “there must be authority within a marriage” both then seek to find where that authority ought to be placed. Both sides begin with the question, “Where does the authority lay?” yet neither side begins with the proper question, “What is the purpose of marriage?”

Marriage is a sacrament, at least for those who still follow the sacraments. Even for denominations that have done away with the sacraments marriage is still a very important event and taken very seriously. Even in the most country Southern Baptist Church, where the congregants would sooner drink unsweet tea and sing the praises of Lincoln and the Union than give any credence to “them Catholics,” marriage is treated as a sacrament in all but the name. In such churches, if you are over the age of 20 and not married the old women will begin to worry for you and the men will question you. No matter what strand of Christianity you run into, marriage seems to be an important aspect for that strand.

Yet, in all its importance we often fail to answer the question, “What is the purpose of marriage?” Sure, there are very practical purposes of marriage, such as having sex, having children, having a companion, and so on. Yet, one can imagine a world where such things can still occur, but marriages not exist. The Bible is clear that all of these things are to happen solely within the realm of marriage. Thus, the practical elements that come to mind, while representative of marriage, do not address the purpose of marriage. Why does God deem that these things ought to happen within marriage? Perhaps one could point to Genesis where we see that husband and wife are to “become one.” Perhaps the purpose of marriage is to become one, but what does this look like?

Of course, becoming one flesh is still just an aspect of marriage. While everyone agrees that the most successful marriages are the most self-sacrificial ones, not everyone agrees on how much self-sacrifice should be given. Seth Adam Smith (what a name) argues for total self-sacrifice, that marriage isn’t for the individual, but for the other. While popular (and mostly correct), there have been detractors. They argue (mostly correct) that marriage is about us, about a partnership. Yet, in both instances the purpose of marriage is focused on the “one flesh” and what that means. The purpose of marriage is focused on the participants in the marriage, not in the One who instituted the marriage.

 

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Death of Virtue or, Here Once Stood Virtuous Men and Women


IMG_0352There is no escaping the fact that we live in a society that is void of virtue. The title of this post is not meant to be read literally as virtue, being abstracted, cannot die. We do not live in the aftermath of virtue’s death, rather we fail to live because we ignore the life of virtue. For those wanting a more in depth understanding of virtue, you can see my thoughts on it here, here, and here. For an example of this, we can look to a young man in Calgary who stood up for a friend who was being bullied and even had a knife pulled on him. Rather than being celebrated by the school for an act of bravery, he was chastised (though not punished) for intervening. The school went so far as to say that it wasn’t necessarily a case of another kid being bullied, but rather was two students just fighting and one pulled out a knife.

Let us assume that one kid was not being bullied. Does that mean the young man should not have intervened? We are told that he put his safety in danger, but since when does doing the right thing come with a promissory of safety? Certainly in standing up for justice, or love of one’s neighbor, or courage one is likely to face danger to one’s safety. That is, after all, the entire point of virtue; this life isn’t about you, but is about the Good and the pursuit of the Good, meaning that sometimes you must take risks.

A fulfilled life is not the safe life, a fulfilled life is full of scrapes and bruises, it’s full of struggle and pain; it is what weak-willed adults called unstable and what playful children call adventure. We lack adventure in our world. We create the simulation of danger, a simulacrum of courage, we tell people to jump off bridges with a bungee cord attached, we encourage rides on amusement parks, we pump money into the artificial stimulation of adrenaline. We are rational animals and our body, being a beast, can be easily tricked. Provide enough simulation and the body will react and think it is in a dangerous situation when it really is not. After all, with the bungee cord, though there is some danger, it is controlled. The same stands true for rides on amusement parts or any other “adrenaline junkie” favorites.

Jumping from an airplane with safety equipment and a tested parachute with a low to no fail rate doesn’t require courage, at least not true courage. Jumping from an airplane with that same equipment and parachute into an occupied territory in an attempt to deliver liberty to a people, knowing that you may have to give your life to advance the cause of liberty, now that takes courage. True courage doesn’t exist unless there is a little bit of danger involved, unless there is a little risk of personal harm; after all, if harm (either physical or emotional) is not a risk in doing something then how does it take courage to do that something?

Thus, the boy in Calgary was courageous and rather than saying, “You could have gotten yourself hurt,” we should applaud him for acting as he did in lieu of the knowledge that he could have been harmed. The “it’s not my business” mentality and “I don’t want to suffer harm” is what has allowed perpetrators to continue to have victims. But not only did this boy show courage, he also showed love. He showed love not only to the potential victim, but also to the victimizer.  Continue reading

Dr. Strangethought or: How I Learned to Stop Being Modern and Love Being Post


It’s popular in our culture today to attach the prefix “post” to an ideology or position to indicate that we have somehow advanced beyond such a position or ideology. Such phrasing, however, tends to be more Orwellian than an accurate description, as what is usually “post” still holds to the key tenets of what it supposedly leaves behind, but simply changes the conclusions of those tenets. We might say we are “post-anything,” but the sad reality is that we still very much belong to the old ideology; we slap “post” on there to act as though we’ve escaped the ideology, but we are still within its grasps.

Imagine that while walking in the woods, you come across a house. The outside of the house is painted brown and has roses in the garden. When you walk in you notice that the house has 2 bedrooms, an office, one bathroom, the carpet is purple, and the entire inside is painted red. Such a house simply will not do for your tastes. You first take out the roses and plant tulips. Next you paint the house beige on the outside and pure white on the inside. You take out the carpet and put in hardwood floors, all the while you add another bathroom and turn the study into another bedroom. While the house is different, the frame and foundation remain the same.

Likewise, when we apply the word “post” to an ideology, more often than not we have simply redecorated the ideology without changing the ideology. The base presuppositions of the ideology remain the same, but the conclusions and certain definitions to terms might change. In essence, the ideology remains the same, but is still tweaked; the presuppositions remain while the conclusions drawn from the presuppositions change.

For instance, we think of “post-modernism,” which should indicate that we have moved past the Enlightenment period of history and are now in a period that no longer holds onto the theory of absolutes, that is, we have abandoned the Enlightenment experiment and find ourselves to be enlightened for it. Any astute observer of the history of philosophy will tell you, however, that we haven’t really moved beyond modernism, but simply shifted the conclusions of modernism. Whereas modernism recognized the inherent problem of knowledge and embraced skepticism, it eventually concluded that we could reach a unified epistemology (way of thinking) worldwide through reason. Though there are some differences between modernism and modern modernism (what is called post-modernism), each begins with the same premise and presuppositions, but simply move in different directions as to the conclusions.

But post-modernism isn’t the only mis-labeled term. Terms such as “post-racial,” “post-feminism,” “post-colonialism,” and even “post-Christian” tend to fall into the Orwellian trap of renaming something to change how it’s received. Is our society truly post-racial? When a black politician can encourage voters to vote for a senatorial candidate because “he looks like us” and no one pays attention to such blatant racism, are we really “post-racial”? Rather, what we call post-racial is little more than racism against the majority – should you label something wrong because it’s a vestige of the “white male” then you are seen as an academic. Should you label something wrong because it’s a vestige of the “black man” then you are seen as a racist. The fact is both viewpoints are racist because both seek to lift up one race while degrading another. There is certainly nothing post-racial about that; the core of racism remains the same (i.e. that one race is superior/inferior than another race), but the conclusions are different. Continue reading

Do you need more proof on Islam?


As though we needed more proof that Islam is violent and oppresses other religions, CBS’ 60 Minutes program did a special on the persecution the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is facing. As the video explains, this is not some obscure Christian leader; he is the patriarch to 300,000,000 Christians worldwide. Though not the same as the Roman Catholic Pope, what the Patriarch is facing is the equivalent of if Italy were to close Vatican City and attempt to oust all Christians in the nation.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2:

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

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