Existence as an Act of Love


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Act I

Once I wallowed in the darkness of the void

That darkness darker than the night

Ever searching, ever groping, ever longing

My hands clutching shadows that slipped through my fingers.

Lost in a maze without meaning, without purpose, without destination

I wandered in a dry and waterless land

My soul aching for something or someone to give me hope

An experience to justify this pitiful existence.

How I yearned to escape the absurdity

I clung to my individuality, my uniqueness, but in vain

Having rejected You I acknowledged that all was One – ever turning, all encompassing

And within this Monolith “I” was an illusion.

How I longed to communicate – to understand and to be understood

How I longed to reciprocate – to love and to be loved

How I longed to impose my will – to create and to be created

But how could I escape the Monolith?

Mindless forces, endlessly indifferent, from the dawn of time

Blindly marching on, from everlasting to everlasting

Laws of nature too powerful to escape

Leading me, guiding me, shaping me, informing me, fating me.

I was but a cog in the wheel

One piece of the machine

And even this wasn’t real

For everything was One and “I” was an aberration, a twisted trick of nature.

My thoughts were merely a chimera

Every doubt, every fear, every belief, every feeling, every passion was an inevitability

A destiny set in stone by the cold, irrational, unconscious, laws of physics and biology

Since the dawn of time.

Reason and rationality became but a farce

I groped aimlessly in the night

For “I” was but the dust in a star

Like grass, my puny body would deteriorate and die

My atoms scattered to and fro . . .


 

Intermission 

And so it was that I sank into the pit of despair and hopelessness

Where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 


Act II

But You, my Beloved, drew near in my distress

You who made blind eyes see, shattered through the night

Piercing the darkness with your unapproachable light

Illuminating my mind and reviving my heart of stone!

Through You, O Lord, we may see existence as an act of love

Ultimate reality as an intimacy shared between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

The eternal wellspring of personality, communication, and love

The perfect communion of three distinct personalities sharing one

nature, energy, and will.

For in You, O God, is perfect community, true intimacy, and pure holiness

It was out of this  love that You gave birth to the Universe

Speaking into existence something other – yet still reflecting Your incomparable beauty

A supreme act of Self-Giving.

And You imprinted Your image and likeness upon it

Creating other distinct personalities capable of communication and love

That they, too, though finite and limited, might share in the wonder of your eternal glory

and experience the delight of Your All-Holy Spirit

Even now You lovingly maintain the order and harmony of the Universe

Fixing the laws of nature, those models of elegance and simplicity

Maintaining regularity – the ebb and flow of matter and energy

That we may live and move and have our being.

Ever communicating Your love!

Ever revealing Your heart!

Ever beckoning us to abide!

That we may join the everlasting and harmonious community of the Blessed and most Holy Trinity

Come let us abide in You and You in us!  Amen.

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Quote of the Day: Fr. Pavel Florensky


“The Christian idea of God as Essential Love, as Love inside Himself, and therefore also outside Himself; the idea of God’s humility, of His self-abasement, manifested first in the creation of the world, i.e., in the placing of autonomous being alongside Himself, in the gift to this being of the freedom to develop according to its own laws, and therefore in the voluntary limitation of Himself–this idea for the first time made it possible to recognize creation as autonomous and therefore morally responsible to God.”

The Ever-Present Tyranny or, Why Liberty is so Hard to Obtain


IMG_1006A few months ago, President Obama said the following:

“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works; they’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

The President simply touched on a sentiment that has always existed in the United States, primarily that, “Oh, that could never happen here.” We see tyranny in far off lands, we see the dictators oppressing the people, the stormtroopers busting down their doors, the people assaulted by the police for protesting the unjust actions of a government, and we gasp and say, “Thank God we live in America, that could never happen here.”

These same voices, however, seemingly ignore that America has in one way or another been tyrannical since its founding. While it has experimented with liberty and attempted to extend that liberty to all, once cannot ignore the tyranny of slavery, of genocide against the Native Americans, of segregation, and so on. Americans turned (and continue to turn) their heads to the police brutality against our minority brothers and sisters. Tyranny is a cancer, a disease that simply spreads across a populace, something that if left uncured and unchecked in one segment of a population will eventually spread to the country entire.

The idea of tyranny spreading from one segment of the population to the other segments is seen best in Martin Niemöller’s famous poem “First they came…” As many already know, he states that “they” came for the Communists and he said nothing, then the socialists and still he said nothing, and so on. Eventually when they came for him, there was no one left. That is because tyranny has voracious appetite, it must always feed off people. It has an unquenchable thirst for oppression. That is because tyranny is sin on a mass scale.

We live in a fallen world, one where we humans have rebelled against God. In rebelling against God we have forgone liberty – true liberty is when one is allowed to pursue one’s nature – and made ourselves slaves to sin. It is not a coincidence or a play on words that in John 8:34 Jesus states that sin is a tyranny, but the Son has come to set us free. The results of sin is always slavery. Thus, in a fallen world tyranny is our natural desire.

Tyranny exists for two reasons: First, the narcissism of those in power cares nothing for the masses (and only feigns concern; they entrench themselves and justify their tyranny by saying the masses need it). Secondly, the narcissism of the masses cares more about personal peace and affluence than anything else. That is, the tyrants throw the bread in order to stay in power and the masses accept the bread so they don’t have to make it themselves; all the while liberty is taken away, which eventually destabilizes a society. Every tyranny that has existed has collapsed in a violent fashion, not to mention the lives taken during its tenure. Yet, the masses allow it for their own selfish reasons and the rulers cause it for their own selfish reasons.

If tyranny is the natural state of humanity in a fallen world, then the contrary is that liberty is something that requires work. Contrary to what the President said, tyranny is always lurking around the corner. It comes ever closer whenever a society becomes more immoral, more lazy, more unloving. It knocks at the door when we not only have no problem with oppressing those who disagree with us, but find a sort of joy in it. Tyranny is always present and if we stop for one second in our pursuit of liberty, we only allow tyranny to catch up.

In a fallen world, history has shown us that the natural tendency of humanity is to allow themselves to be ruled by a tyrant. Only a strong and moral people have ever fought to find liberty. In other words, liberty is not the natural state of man in this unnatural world, rather tyranny is. We must always work for liberty, for tyranny is found in rest.

The True Impact of Memorial Day


For many people, Memorial Day functions as a day off work. In fact, many people hardly know why we celebrate Memorial Day. Thankfully though, in recent years, people have slowly become more aware of what Memorial Day stands for. But I do wonder if we recognize the true importance of this day.

There is a line from the movie Amistad, where the character of John Quincy Adams says, “Freedom is not given to us, it is our right at birth, but there are times where it must be taken.” The sentiment of our rights being God-given is not only within the Constitution, but essential to our Constitution. That there exists those who would seek to take away our freedoms shows there are times where such freedoms must be taken or protected by force, and with this force comes a loss of life.

We cannot deny that war is evil, but what makes it completely evil is that it is unnecessarily necessary. What I mean is that were it not for those who seek to control men with an iron fist, were it not for those who desire to eradicate freedom and instead place a certain ideology in charge of the government, there would be no need for war, no need for a loss of life. But because such evil men exist and because freedom is something worth dying for, war remains necessary, but also evil.

It is through such sacrifices that our won freedom has been preserved. We celebrate Memorial Day because, to put it quite bluntly, there are those who gave their lives so that we wouldn’t have to, those who paid a debt to the bank of freedom so that we might enjoy the payout. We remember those who fought bravely in the American War for Independence and the subsequent War of 1812, where our freedom was first won and then secured.

In the Civil War soldiers from the Union fought to preserve our nation and fought to abolish slavery. Young men, boys by today’s standard, stood in a line and took round after round, giving their lives, so that our union might be preserved and an entire race of people might find freedom. Some of them were so young that they wouldn’t even qualify for a driver’s license in many states today. Were many of these soldiers alive today they would be busy playing video games, getting ready for the school dance, or taking a summer job. Instead, so many years ago, these young men gave their lives so that freedom might prevail over the tyranny of slavery.

In WWI American lives were spent attempting to secure peace in Europe and to finally end the wars of expansion. In WWII – the most justified war America has ever entered into – American lives were sacrificed in order to turn back Hitler. Had we not entered the war Hitler still would have lost to the Soviets, but how much of Europe would have fallen under the command of the Soviets? When the young men of America stormed the beaches of Normandy, freedom once again showed that it would always prevail over tyranny, but it came at a cost. Freedom was secured, but it was paid for by the blood of these men and by the tears of the numerous widows, children, mothers and fathers back home.

In the Pacific Americans fought and died in order to prevent the expansion of Imperial Japan, the same empire that tortured and harassed the people under their rule. Many Americans lost their lives in the Pacific so that many Americans today could enjoy the freedom to live without fear, to go where they please, and to enjoy having their own government rather than that of a foreign occupier.

In Korea and Vietnam American lives were given in order to secure freedom for far away lands. Many would argue that these were unjust wars, that we should have simply avoided conflict. Yet, many Americans still answered the call of the government to serve and subsequently gave their lives. We see this happening today both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There have been numerous conflicts where Americans have given their lives. Not all of these conflicts have been just (look at the lives lost in the wars with the Native Americans). As a rule, however, we should be forever thankful for those who have willingly sacrificed their lives for our freedom. That I can sit here and type out a thankful note, or alternatively that I could criticize America, is not a freedom that should be taken for granted; rather we should recognize that someone else paid the price for our right to speak freely, to move about the nation freely, and so on.

Finally, in recognizing the freedoms secured by the loss of life, we should seek to preserve those freedoms rather than throw them away and make the sacrifice of the many in vain. Today we see Americans capitulating to fear and surrendering their freedoms. We see Americans giving up their freedom of speech in order to avoid offending someone. We see Americans giving up their freedom to bear arms in order to “prevent crime.” We see Americans giving up their right to due process in order to board a plane because we’re so afraid of death that we’ve forgotten how to live. Our fear of death and of terrorism has forced us to unwittingly surrender the very freedoms we’re supposedly fighting for.

Aside from remembering those lost in our wars, Memorial Day should also teach us that some freedom is worth dying for. That maybe it is impossible to prevent all terrorist attacks in a free society, but that a free society with a threat of terrorism is better than a totalitarian society that is absent of terrorism; for is a life lived in a police state a life worth living? Is such a lifestyle worth protecting? I would submit that it is not. Rather, having a life of freedom is worth dying over, it is worth protecting, and if we should ever forget that then we should be honest and cease to celebrate Memorial Day. If we are willing to trade our freedoms for a bit of false security or personal peace, then we shouldn’t value those who gave their lives for the very freedoms we are willing to surrender, lest we insult their sacrifice. After all, rather than surrendering their God-given freedoms when someone threatened to take them away, they stood their ground and fought to take back those freedoms. That we should do the same is the ultimate memorial to their sacrifice.

More Fun with Modern Sayings


I went over three modern sayings in a previous post that are popular to say, but just don’t make any sense. After writing it, a few more have come to mind.

1)   “What someone does in his/her personal life doesn’t affect me.”

To a certain extent, such libertine sentiment is true. What type of food a person chooses to eat doesn’t affect me. What kind of drapes a person puts up in his home doesn’t affect me. But often times so-called private actions can lead to public consequences, which does affect me.

This whole privacy matter generally deals with privacy in the bedroom. For instance, how many liberal protestors who advocate homosexual rights based on “My personal life isn’t the government’s business,” but quickly turn around and want to place limits on how big my “carbon footprint” is, or dictate if I can smoke or not, or even dictate how much electricity I can use? There’s a double-standard – they’re willing to let the government intervene on those issues, but not on sexual issues.

Regardless, what goes on in the bedroom can affect me by affecting society. What we do is often reflected upon our children. As I pointed out in a previous post, sexual immorality tends to go hand-in-hand with other forms of immorality. Thus, if one is engaging in sexually immoral acts in the bedroom, then one is more apt to perform immoral acts in public.

The connection to public corruption, however, is almost irrelevant. Though it may not be the government’s business what goes on in the bedroom or in a person’s personal life, as a human being I have an obligation to point out immorality when I see it. I have an obligation to point out what is wrong (in a loving way) in the way someone is acting. By being human, a person’s personal life is my business.

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Exploring the problem of evil (Part 1) – Can God and Evil Exist?


I was recently presented with Hume’s famous argument against God concerning evil. The following is my reply. I offer great apologies to Alvin Plantinga as the thought process, the exact wording of the syllogisms, and the argument come from his book God, Freedom, and Evil (though, to be fair, his arguments are really the analytical renderings of Augustine’s City of God). Here was my response to the person:

If God is willing to prevent evil, but not able, then he is not omnipotent.

If he is able, but not willing, then he is malevolent.

If he is both willing and able, then whence cometh evil?

If he is neither willing nor able, then why call him God?

If we grant the first and second premise, then we must deal with the third premise, which is:

(1) God is omnipotent

(2) God is wholly good

(3) Evil exists (why?)

The problem with your syllogism is that, taken prima facie, it’s not contradictory. There is no reason to assume that just because God is willing to stop evil that He will actualize His capability to stop evil. Rather, there are two other implied syllogisms in your argument:

(4) A good thing always eliminates evil as far as it can

and

(5) There are no limits to what an omnipotent being can do.

What do we mean when we say that God is omnipotent though? Does God’s omnipotence mean that He can create square holes, married bachelors, or worlds both do and do not exist? Or does it simply mean that He has unlimited power on all things that are within reason (given that reason is part of His nature)? That is, does it merely mean that He has all power within things that could actually exist? Most theologians would go with the latter understanding of omnipotence. If God wanted to create a unicorn or make it to where a rainbow turned into a pot of gold, then He certainly could because, though these things do not exist, it is not illogical for them to exist. He could not, however, create a world in which He doesn’t exist, or negate His own nature, due to the rationality present within His nature. In short, God follows His own nature, meaning He cannot contradict Himself. Thus, omnipotence merely means that there are no nonlogical limits to what God can do. Thus, our new proposition is:

(5) There are no nonlogical limits to what an omnipotent being can do.


Now, is it necessarily true that if a being is both willing and able to end an evil act that the being will always do so? In short, no. Assume that your friend John has capsized his boat in the Atlantic and doesn’t have a life preserver. He’ll probably only be able to stay afloat for thirty minutes. You have a boat that is fully fueled and you can have it out to John in less than 20 minutes. His plight is certainly an evil one, one that you are capable of eliminating and, if you knew about it, certainly willing to eliminate. But you don’t eliminate it. Does this make you evil? Continue reading