Thursday, December 31, 2015

The book that all Christians must absolutely read now



Real Christianity by William Wilberforce is the most important book I read in 2015 and has lead to an intense re-examination of my life and how I'm living it. There are so many great quotes I could select from this book to try and convince you that it's worth reading but rather, I'll list people whose lives were influenced by Wilberforce:

Thoreau
Emerson
John Quincy Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln
James Monroe
Marquis de Lafayette

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Twofold resurrection

" There is a twofold resurrection: the one by which we in spirit, will, and faith rise with Christ from what is earthly so as to turn our minds to what is heavenly and seek out the things to come; and the other one which will be the general resurrection of all in the flesh." 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trusting in the Lord

He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord. -Psalm 112:7
In our prayers we should ask the Lord to visit His Spirit upon our enemies. To do to them what he did to Saul. Transform them to be followers of Christ, Lord. Make them repent and put away their evil schemes. Remove the evil and demons from them, Lord. Make them blind so that they may see.

We should embrace mercy as David did towards King Saul in 1 Samuel 24. Let us be firm but merciful. For we are not like our enemy. If the enemy will not relent we must defeat them totally. But let us have mercy when the Lord commands us. Let us listen to His voice, and His voice alone. For it is His way in which we are commanded to walk.

Let us be ever mindful that it is only the Lord who can save us, make us strong, and protect us. It is His strength, not ours, which will prevail.

If we lose sight of this and begin to think that we are the ones who must do it all, we will be lost. Let us humble ourselves. Let us ask our Lord for mercy and protection.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why Anglicans should give Rowan Williams a break

Over and over again I encounter, in person and in writing, Anglicans who complain about what a bad job Rowan Williams did as Archbishop of Canterbury. They posit that all of the current problems of the Anglican Communion are in some way his fault through action or lack of action. It might seem incredible, but many Anglicans actually seem to hold him personally responsible.

This is of course completely off the mark, though many don't see it. Here are some reasons why Anglicans need to give Rowan Williams a break, take stock of themselves , and quite simply, "get over it".

1) The problems in the Communion (the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Canada especially) had problems long before Rowan Williams became Archbishop. Even if you want to blame him for not putting all of the wrongs right, there's a danger of too easily assuming that he was in some way the cause of the problems. Don't be deluded, they go way back.

2) As Archbishop, Rowan Williams faced circumstances which were singular in their occurrence. No other Archbishop has faced the particular circumstances, in the particular time, with the particular pressures, with the particular people, as he did. It's all too easy to apply hindsight bias to all of his decisions (or lack thereof), to all of his actions (or lack thereof) as though we are so wise and of such great integrity that we would have gotten it all correct.

Give me a break.

How many people who criticize and have criticized Rowan Williams honestly think that they could have and would have done a better job when faced with the circumstances and pressures?

3) Whatever you think of him based on his job as Archbishop, you must not forget that Rowan Williams is a man of God, someone who has served the Lord for longer than many of us have even been alive. The job of Archbishop is an administrative role. By Williams' own admission he may not have been the best suited for it, but he took the job on because he was called to do so. He heeded the call and did the best that he could with the skills he had. As such we should thank him for his service and all of the service he has provided and continues to provide, not demonize him.

4) All administrators face criticism from multiple angles, no matter what they do or don't do. Yet, it seems that many Anglicans have fallen into character assassination of Rowan Williams. Having read his books and listened to his sermons, I cannot understand why so many want to pick this man apart simply because he was not able to do a job which, let's be honest, was probably impossible to do (see point #2 above). So it is a problem with angry and disappointed Anglicans more than it's a problem with Rowan Williams. Disliking and saying nasty things about him because of his job as Archbishop accomplishes nothing other than making you a bitter and less like-able person.

5) The above four reasons are particular to Rowan Williams and the circumstances. But there's a fifth and overarching reason of great importance and that is this: If you are a true Christian then you must be more humble, more forgiving, more willing to put yourself in the other man's shoes. I will ask again, do you honestly imagine that in dealing with the mess that the Anglican Communion had become that you would have done a better job?

If so, I suggest that you write to Justin Welby immediately and tell him all of your brilliant ideas because the Communion surely needs it. Or, you could pray and ask to remain humble and that our leaders would remain humble to the Word as well. And you might just spend a little time asking yourself why you've been so angry and using Rowan Williams as a scapegoat all of this time. Maybe you should pray to God the Father and ask him for forgiveness for that.

Update October 27th, 2015: Don't take my word for it, Justin Welby speaks of Williams in this interview.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

300 Prophecies


Probability of one man fulfilling just 8 prophecies was calculated to be 1017.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On murder, adultery, and divorce

Christians have long wrestled with lust, adultery, and divorce (the act of which is its own kind of adultery). We know that we should remain married once married, and yet many do get divorced. We know we should not marry another's husband or wife, and yet many do marry divorcées (or divorcés; I will henceforth use the feminine version for convenience). And many have done these things before finding their faith in Christ, or perhaps before their faith has been restored after a lapse.

So if a Christian finds themselves in this particular state (divorced and married again or married to a divorcée) what is the correct course of action?

Some will say that one is "living in sin" in this particular state and that the only way to correct the situation would be to annul the current marriage and return to the first, proper marriage. Others would say that this is too damaging and that one must get on with the current marriage and remain faithful to the current spouse.

But is one living in sin? Or, is the act of divorce/marriage of a divorcée the act of adultery itself?

If we examine another sin, murder, we will find ourselves confronted with a similar situation, though we may not recognize it quickly. A murder committed, is an act which ends a life and goes against our Creator's command. And once the person is dead, they are dead and gone. It is final. Does, then, the person who committed the crime go on living perpetually in the "sin" of murder? In a sense, yes, the state of the person being dead does persist. But, if we know anything from reading scripture it is that the Lord forgives even those who kill, so long as they humbly and honestly repent.

So then, why would we hold people who are in a state of divorce (which in a sense persists) to a different, perhaps higher standard than murder? Surely, we cannot reasonably expect someone to end a current marriage so as to return to the first marriage, for that would (in essence) be a case of two wrongs and no right outcome. If two persons divorce and have not remarried, then yes, by all means if they are able to re-join one another and continue the union they broke, then God would surely be happy with that. But to end a second marriage and cause grief and suffering (particularly to children), just for the sake of trying to return to some previous state seems to miss the point of God's command entirely.

If our Lord does forgive those who have murdered and who by consequence have created a perpetual and continued state of "dead-ness" then surely the Lord does forgive persons who have re-married or married a divorcée even though they are in a perpetual and continued state of "re-married-ness".

In conclusion, I argue that adultery is an act that occurs in the same way that murder is an act that occurs. Yes, the state of divorce does persists. The dead-ness of the murdered person does persist and can never be undone, but if the Lord forgives those in this state it hardly makes any sense to think that God would not forgive those in the other state, that of being remarried or married to a divorcee. It is the act of repentance for the sin that is of the most consequence. In fact, without repentance, nothing we do as an attempt to try and atone for the sin will be meaningful. It is only our honest and humble repentance that God desires. As the Lord has said,

For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. -Hosea 6:6

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Open your heart to the Spirit

At times I have foolishly grasped with an anxious heart after God's grace, love, and forgiveness. I laugh gently at myself as I realize that He wants me to stop grasping, to let Him take over and to open my heart to His Spirit.

So easy to get caught up in trying to do or be something that God wants us to be. No doubt He does want us to walk in the steps of Jesus and to follow His commands. Yet, we can so easily drift into being confused, into thinking that the grace of God's Spirit will only come to us by virtue of something that we do. What folly!

The Lord gives His grace to us as a gift. We cannot earn it. To think that we do is to go back to the very practices that Jesus warned the people of His day about, as did God's prophets. Let us therefore open our hearts, and not by virtue of something we do to open them, but let us ask God to open them so that we may receive His Spirit.

Father, we pray that your Spirit may enter our hearts,
That we may not be foolish in believing that we somehow 
accomplish things which make us worthy of it,
We are never worthy of it by anything we do, only in our belief
in you and by Your grace do we receive it.
Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Confess to the Lord

Psalm 31:1-5

1 How joyful is the one
whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered!

2 How joyful is the man
the Lord does not charge with sin
and in whose spirit is no deceit!
3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle
from my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was drained
as in the summer’s heat. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to You
and did not conceal my iniquity.
I said,

“I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and You took away the guilt of my sin.

Let us not forget to confess our sins to the Lord. It is easy to forget that we need to confess to Him. We carry our sins around in our hearts like a weight around our neck. Our Lord does not want us to do that. He doesn't want us to squander His loving kindness, His mercy, and His forgiveness.

Confess and ask for forgiveness and the Lord will renew your heart.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

God's adulterous wife

"she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn't support the poor and needy." 

-Exekiel 16:49

Is this not us? Woe to us who disobey the Lord.

The very Father is not without suffering

The very Father is not without suffering. When He is prayed to, He has pity and compassion; He suffers something of love and puts Himself in the place of those with whom He, in view of the greatness of His nature, cannot be. -Origen, Word as Flesh
 To paraphrase Rowan Williams, this suffering which the Father experiences is unlike anything we experience in our human suffering. And, it is precisely because the True God we worship is not just some item in the universe, but the context in which everything exists, that He experiences suffering love, the very suffering love that His Son and our Lord Jesus felt as He walked the earth and as He hung on the cross.

Let us enter into our worship and prayer with this in mind, that God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, is with us in His Spirit, through the suffering love of His Son, and that we are never alone.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Love of the Father

Let us remind ourselves as we pray and worship, to love our Father. To give genuine thanksgiving for all of His blessings and mercies.

Let us not only think about what we can do better, or what we would like for Him to do for us. Let us deepen our relationship with Him and love Him who provides us with everything.

As we love the Father, His Spirit helps us to grow and to love His creation and all of those in it. Through His Son we know our Father and because of His sacrifice we are renewed.

Our hope is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.

9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Commentary:

When confronted by the pagan hordes who demand that you explain why you do not agree with their pagan beliefs, who corner you and seek to defame you and embarrass you, remember the prophet Isaiah, and the words which God the Father spoke to him, which he has written for us.

Remind the pagan hordes that we are called by the Lord's Spirit to something above human ways and thoughts; that we must seek to be what God wants us to be-filled with His Spirit and keeping His commands.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The two ways

Psalm 1:1-6

How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!


Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.


He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.


Root out the part of you that joins mockers, for cynicism erodes the joy which God has planted in your heart. 

Wickedness diverts the stream of the Spirit away from you, so if you revel in it you will be as in a dry and thirsty land. 

Remember, always, that all things are done by God the Father through His Spirit, and that all things are accomplished by our Lord Jesus who was sent to save us. We do nothing on our own.

If we forget that, we embrace pride and move from the stream which he has given us.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Justification

Justification declares that all who believe in Jesus Christ belong at the same table...

One is not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith. One is justified by faith by believing in Jesus (by way of Richard Hooker).

Faith and obedience are not antithetical. They belong exactly together.

Any attempt to define church membership by anything other than allegiance to Jesus Christ is, quite simply, idolatrous.

Words to ponder and live by, from the book, What Saint Paul Really Said by N.T. Wright

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Psalm 146:1-2

Alleluia.

Praise the Lord, O my soul:
 while I live will I praise the Lord;
 as long as I have any being,
 I will sing praises to my God.

Put not your trust in princes,
 nor in any human power,
 for there is no help in them.

There can be no hope, no salvation, which comes from this world. Abandon all hope you have for that and focus on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There you will the salvation, the power, and the glory of the True God.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The sum of your word


From Psalm 119:160


The sum of your word is truth,
and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.


Let us never forget that scripture is the sacred Word of God.

Let us marvel at His creation and His truth.

Let us ever be thankful that we have received His Word and His truth.

Let us keep clean hearts as a home for Him, His Word, and His Spirit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Return to the Lord


Return to the Lord, who will have mercy,
to our God, who will richly pardon.


Seek the Lord while he may be found, •
call upon him while he is near;

Let the wicked abandon their ways, •
and the unrighteous their thoughts;

Return to the Lord, who will have mercy; •
to our God, who will richly pardon.

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, •
neither are your ways my ways,’ says the Lord.

‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, •
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

‘As the rain and the snow come down from above, •
and return not again but water the earth,

‘Bringing forth life and giving growth, •
seed for sowing and bread to eat,

‘So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; •
it will not return to me fruitless,

‘But it will accomplish that which I purpose, •
and succeed in the task I gave it.’

Isaiah 55.6-11

Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

Return to the Lord, who will have mercy,
to our God, who will richly pardon.




Daily our thoughts should turn to the Lord; to His sacrifice for us; to God's majesty and mercies which are too numerous to count. As we receive blessings we should remember that God will work in our lives in ways which we will not understand until later. Therefore we should be humble and accept what He does in our lives; and we should always be thankful for His sacrifice for us.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

My faults

While it's easy to focus in pseudonymous writing on the ways in which I have sorted myself out, I will presently lay myself open and acknowledge but a few of my faults. May God help me as I strive to be a better man.

I am at times..

Prideful and arrogant.
Quick to judge. 
Impatient. 
Lustful of women other than my wife.
Quick to anger. 
Capricious. 
Envious. 
Childish. 
Stubborn. 
Unappreciative of all that I have. 
Difficult to please. 
Unforgiving. 
Ignorant. 
Short-sighted. 
Greedy. 
Hypocritical. 
Inconsistent. 
Dishonest. 


 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Be sober, be vigilant

Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, seeking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in the faith.

1 Peter 5.8,9

What tempts you most? What inflates your ego?

There he dwells. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

Letters to a young man 39

Hello my friend.

Marriage is perhaps the most important event in a man's life, and the decision of who to marry is perhaps the most important one in a man's life. Curiously, many young men have very little guidance on the subject. Fortunately, those who have pastoral care can seek the wisdom of your pastor or priest or others in your congregation. But for others who have no solid advice it can seem a daunting task. Many find themselves scurrying from friend to friend to ask for advice never having really asked themselves some fundamental questions. I want to share with you my humble insights as a married man and hope that it may be useful to you.

When you are considering whether or not to propose marriage, no one can tell you for sure what the correct choice is and if it will work out. There is no checklist which, if summed, will lead to a completely safe decision. No one can tell you for sure what you should do. Some will suggest what they think is the best course of action, but in that moment right before you ask her the question, it will be just you and her and you will have to face what comes next, whatever her answer may be.

As you stand on that precipice, you may feel fear and anxiety. This is completely normal. (Visualize jumping out of a plane, unsure if your parachute will work.) What will help you in this moment is having searched out your heart and mind to discover what it is about this woman that draws you to her, and why you want to make a life with her. Following are some things to think and pray on while you are considering what will likely be the most important decision of your life.

Firstly, search out your heart and make sure that you love this woman and that you are and can be devoted to her over the course of your life. Imagine that her looks may fade, that she may become injured and that you will have to care for her. Search out your heart and make certain that you care deeply and fundamentally about her as a human being and that you want to be with her for life.

Secondly, ask yourself if you put this woman's happiness first and does she put your happiness first as well. This doesn't mean that either of you should completely derail any hopes for happiness or goals that you have. It doesn't mean that either or both of you become a door mat to the other. This is a question about approach to the relationship. Put another way, do you empathize with one another? Do you love one another as you love yourselves? And can you make sacrifices for one another?

If the first two of these do not yield positive results, I would suggest that you dig deeply into your feelings. Are you wanting to be with her because of sex and attraction? I can see now why people have traditionally waited until marriage to have sex and I think that is the best course of action. Sex an derail our thinking and feeling. We can lose sight of what's truly important at the heart of a relationship. Sex that is pleasurable but ultimately devoid of feeling is loose sand and is not the foundation you want to build a marriage and life on. 

Likewise, if you are wanting to marry a woman because of status, whether the social status is derived from the fact that she has wealth, or because she is very attractive, you need to remind yourself that both of these things may fade. Who is she underneath? Does she share your beliefs, your desires for family, your goals for a good life?

If, on the other hand, the first two things yield positive results, I think you are likely on the right track. Next, ask yourself what your life would be like without her. Imagine that she is gone, and gone forever. If you wince at this prospect and cannot imagine a life without her, then you know that she means something to you.

Other things to consider. How is she with children? And does she want children? Does she put too much emphasis on money and status? Where are her priorities? Will she care for you when you are sick? Is she modest or does she dress provocatively in seeking male attention?

In the final analysis, these questions are but a rough guide to get you thinking properly about marriage and what it means. What you find will help shed some light on your situation. In the end, you must determine if you will make that leap. As I said before, no one can make that decision for you. But this is part of the beauty of the thing. To truly take the leap of faith means you are ready to accept the consequences and enter into the covenant with her. And this is a core of what marriage is and does for you both.

Farewell for now.




Friday, May 8, 2015

Letters to a young man 38

Hello my friend. I want to talk to you today about the great regrets of life. Particularly, the regrets I feel upon looking back on the last 10 or 15 years of my life. I pass these on to you in the hope that you may avoid the traps which I myself have fallen into.

To begin with, I feel I spent far too much time in that period trying to gain acceptance from other people. This includes people who I've only ever met online, people who could disappear in an instant (and some have), never to be seen nor heard from again.

This was, in hindsight which is of course the great leveler, a great waste of time and effort. But beyond the waste of time and effort, it led to a lot of poor decision making. The truth, though, is that I had always struggled with acceptance, and that I had always looked to the wrong people for acceptance. I think this goes back to my childhood, and I won't bore you with those details.

And let me say, there is nothing wrong whatsoever in building relationships with people online, so long as you keep things in proportion. For me, the grave mistake was in the looking for acceptance from them, the needing of their acceptance. I pray you never fall into this trap as it may lead to bad things.

As an example, you may suppress your true feelings and opinions while trying to win the favor (acceptance) of others. Or you may do and say things that are not in true accord with your beliefs (almost on auto-pilot) because you can't bear the thought of losing their approval. Whether in real life or online, this is always a danger.

For quite a long time I looked for acceptance in others. Then I fooled myself into believing that I was looking for acceptance within myself, but truly I was looking for acceptance from without. Then I truly did look within but it was like looking for food in your stomach after you have eaten: it quickly is digested and is nowhere to be found. In truth, I pushed God aside and told myself that it was within myself that the answer was.

And, ironically, I wasn't entirely wrong to look within myself for the love, truth, and acceptance that I sought. I just didn't realize what the true source of it was and that it was not truly "me". 

Here is where I'm going to diverge somewhat from my usual tract and perhaps lose some of you in the process, but I must speak plainly here. I think no good can come at all from merely trying to rely on oneself for acceptance and strength. As human beings, we're weak and it is just a matter of time before our strength, courage, resolve, and belief in ourselves runs out. What we need is belief in God, and to look to God for acceptance. It is the Holy Spirit which is within us as a gift from God the Father through Jesus Christ.

Now, those of you who haven't closed the browser already, thank you for hearing me out. I do not wish to proselytize here, but I see no other way of speaking plainly about what I believe. I've spent far too long trying to do everything myself, to rely on myself, and it has always ended in failure. And, I don't think this is an accident. It is precisely built-in to our human condition.

Let me also say that I see no problems with being a Christian Confucian, or a Christian Stoic. Quite the contrary I see there being overlap between these moral and ethical philosophies and belief in God. Yet, I see in both of those realms that Christianity is the strong point, the wellspring of spirit which keeps things together and always able to move towards the best of what we human beings can be. It may be all well and fine to have an ethic or plan for society but if you lack the spirit to continue amid the challenges of life, you may achieve what you would hope for.

So, let me get back to regrets. I wish I had spent more time and effort over the last 10 or 15 years reaching out to people whom I could touch, and help in some way, in ways beyond what I have done online through my writing. On the one hand I believe this blog and writing precisely is a big part of my mission in life, and the belief in this mission has kept me going through numerous changes. And yet, I also do feel that I could have done more along the way, in my own community where I live, with my family, and so on,

I guess what I'm saying, my friend, is that there are many places where we can put our efforts, and there are also many places where we can look for acceptance. Keep your need and longing for acceptance fixed on a place of true acceptance and love, on the solid ground where it belongs. And move your energies beyond what is easiest and most comfortable. By no means need you give up what you have done and are doing, but reach out further beyond what is most known to you. You may find that you will achieve more and touch more lives than you had before, and you may find that you can learn and grow beyond what you might now think possible. And when you find that you are at a loss as to what to do next, spend some quiet time alone in meditation and prayer.



And, finally, if belief in Jesus Christ isn't for you or you're just not sure, I recommend meditation and focusing in on the here and now of your life. Focus on ethics and try to determine what is best for your world, and what is best for those you come into contact with. Do not focus only on what will make you rich, or gain you acceptance, for these will be empty branches that will grow dry, crack, and fall out from under you. Find solid ground to make your stand.

Peace be with you, farewell for now.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Letters to a young man 37

One of the best things you can do right now to improve your life, no matter where you are or what you're doing is simple.

Stop.

Look around.

Listen.

Do this in silence. Take everything in. Let everything around you become more present to your mind.

You may be at work, sitting in a cubicle, with noise all around you. Or on a crowded subway car, holding your wife's hand with your nose dangerously close to the stinking armpit of a man half asleep. Or in a beautiful park, or on a mountain.

Regardless of where you are, simply stop and take things in, without judgment.

As a Christian, I believe in God and so I believe that this experience brings me closer to God and allows the Holy Spirit to enter me without my pushing myself outward onto things.

But even if you don't believe these things, stopping, looking around, and listening will improve your life. It allows you to put aside anxieties, plans, and whatever isn't going on right at the moment. It allows you to truly feel and be human, when much of the time you may feel like an inhuman robot rushing from thing to thing.

Returning to the basic awareness of life and what is around you is a great step to returning to your humanity and to be more fully who you are.

Stop.

Look around.

Listen.

Embrace life.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A renewal of faith

Like many men of middle age, I recently reached a saturation point with the world's troubles. Having reached that point I came to an impasse. To turn away and enter hermitage (albeit with a wife and family) or to turn and face the world? No easy decision, to be sure.

On the one hand, my stoicism and Confucianism have spurned me towards facing the world with the mix of stiff-upper-lip and human compassion. Yet, for some time now I've felt a lack of spiritual reserves which could fuel such endeavors. For, I think that one must also have joy in life, and partake of the joy of life if one is going to continue and to face life, even as a stoic. (As an aside, stoicism need not be joyless, despite what you may have heard. In fact, I would argue that a joyless stoicism will inevitably crumble just like any other philosophical approach to life.)

So I have been muddling my way through life, meeting the troubles I've found in the best way I could, though with an increasing sense of hopelessness and even, if I'm honest, a bit of dread regarding the future.

And yet, through some process that remains a mystery to me I have returned to a faith which I found a long time ago in my youth, which sustained me and which I subsequently lost, or at least misplaced. Perhaps a better way to put it is that it found me, like a slight tap on the shoulder, saying, "Look, over here, here I am." This was God talking to me, in the way in which I've come to understand God's communication.

It is a further mystery to me how the troubles of the world have taken a part in all of this. Through the graphic images that I've come across (usually, quite unwillingly), I've had a crisis and have battled with depression. Yet, through all of that, it has seemed as though God has wanted me to face those images, the difficult realities of our world. The words of Rowan Williams resonate with me when he says, "A baptized Christian ought to be somebody who is not afraid of looking with honesty at the chaos inside, as well as being where humanity is at risk, outside." 1

There have been many important changes to my life since this renewal in faith, changes in my daily habits (prayer and daily reading of scripture), as well as changes in my outlook on life and the world. I suppose one of the most important effects that has come from it is a renewed sense of joy for life. And yes, there is still profound sadness and sorrow within. Yet, I've found some sense of joy and hope which had left me. Perhaps it comes from realizing (again) that the world has long been such a troubled place as it is now. More likely, it comes from looking around me and seeing the world differently, as well as my place in it. Recognizing my small part in everything and focusing outward, and not just inward, is an important shift. Some of the positive effects follow.

A sense of belonging replacing a sense of isolation and despair.
A renewed humility in the face of problems which are really quite difficult.
Realizing just how impatient I've become.
Facing feelings of hatred and fear which are quite real and difficult to resolve alone.
Connection to God replacing the egoist monolith of modern living.
Daily ritual replacing aimless wasting of mental and emotional focus. Well, beginning to replace, this is still a work in progress after all.

It's in the truly difficult moments of life, where we are filled with anger, despair, and disgust that we may find God tapping us on the shoulder and asking us to turn and face Him. To be open to a different view, to be open to truth.

I have no desire to proselytize here on this blog, though I will share my beliefs when they are relevant. I will however say, whoever you are, whatever you believe, as you wake and walk and act, peace be with you.


1. Being Christian by Rowan Williams

Friday, February 13, 2015

Against "Diversity": the most important paper your university president has not read

The pernicious impact of aspiring to or measuring “diversity” at the classroom level seems obvious upon reflection. Will the University accept this “goal” as carte blanche to add minorities until a “critical mass” chooses nuclear physics as a major? Will classroom diversity “suffer” in areas like applied math, kinesiology, chemistry, Farsi, or hundreds of other subjects if, by chance, few or no students of a certain race are enrolled?

http://www.nas.org/articles/against_diversity

Reference:
Clegg, R., & Rosenberg, J. (2012). Against 'Diversity'. Academic Questions, 25(3), 377-388. doi:10.1007/s12129-012-9312-9

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Letters to a young man 36

Hello my friend.

These are indeed dark days, are they not? Does it feel like there is nowhere left in the world which is sane, which makes sense? Does it seem to you that everyone, everywhere has gone crazy? What if I told you that it has always been this way? Consider that in ages long past one would only hear of massacres and wars long after they'd happened, as news traveled at the speed of ships and animals. The same brutality and killing has always happened and so what is happening now is nothing new. What's new is that you are constantly bombarded by images, live feeds even, of the things as they are happening. I argue that your mind wasn't meant to deal with such an influx of terrors and despair at such a constant rate. We are equipped to deal with stressful events from which we flee or against which we fight. But a sustained pressure of constant fear and worry will only erode your health and mind.

Therefore I urge you to turn it off. Turn it all off. Turn your back on it for a while. What good will it do you to bathe in the misery of the world? What can you really do about most of it anyway? In your life you are responsible for yourself, your family, and your actions. Tend to yourself and them and turn away from the madness. It will only make you more lonely, despondent and likely to do irrational things. Of course, if you find yourself in the position to make some real difference, of course you should do so. But do not try to turn back the tide for it will knock you down, every time.

Do you find yourself wishing that people were different? That they only need to embrace the inherent good inside of them? I tell you that people are not good, they are evil. Xunzi was right. Watch any number of nature videos, say ones about chimpanzees for example.See how they wage war against one another? See the brutality as they eat their enemies? We are told they are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Are we so different? Watch any number of videos or read reports of the evils of man.2 Again, are we so different?

The nature of man is evil. Man isn't divine, he only has the potential to be divine. Seneca understood this. Xunzi understood this. Rather than confronting this fact with despair and negativity, I urge you to embrace it head on and to steel yourself against the storms you may face in life. In order to do this you must set aside any childlike fantasies you have of reality. No more can you focus on what the world should be. No more will you consider how people ought to behave. Rather, you will see them for what they are and adjust your behavior and expectations accordingly.

In every situation in which you find yourself you will have the opportunity to behave in a better way, to embrace what is divine in you. Yet this will express itself in ways which may not make sense to you. You may think that the best course of action would be to turn the other cheek, to embrace understanding of those who do evil and to give them another chance. I argue that the opposite is true. Sometimes the cancer must be cut out. You must be cruel to be kind. If you are to be a good shepherd and a king amongst men, you must embrace the difficult path. To properly take care of yourself, your family and your people, you must cut out the cancers that are a threat to them. Your way of life and your future depend on it. This is why the sage kings of old were benevolent but they knew when it was correct to punish the wicked and to banish and kill them. There are no sage kings now and the world surely suffers for it. We have only warlords. The world is waiting for true kings to emerge and unify the various peoples. To cut out the cancer and restore peace and order.

Will that be you?

Take heart. This isn't meant to cause you grief. Just the opposite. First, confront reality. Second, understand what you must do and become. Then carry out your hard work. Be dedicated. Be strong and firm. Give no quarter to those who are and do evil. Restore peace and order. To do so, first you must restore peace and order to your own mind and body. Do you think you can restore peace and order to an entire people when you haven't started with yourself? This is the cause of the chaos we see now in the world. The warlords have gained physical strength, weapons, and advantage. But they haven't restored order and peace to their minds and bodies. Therefore they cause the chaos they carry internally to be carried out in the world. The same is true of those who scratch at the gates of civilization, killing those they disagree with. Oh for a strong king to come and banish them. 3

Again I ask, will that be you?