Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mere Ideas Part 2

Last week I wrote about how advertisements reveal the philosophical ideas that govern contemporary society. You can see the post here. The point was that we live, by and large, by the idea that our lives should be governed by our feelings.

"I Will What I Want"
Earlier this week Richard Dawkins expressed this idea in response to a tweet he received.

The internet exploded with responses to Dawkins suggestion. Parents, friends, and anyone with a general sympathy towards those with Down Syndrome, were justifiably angry at him. His statements  should enflame anyone who has a heart, including those who have gone through the process of aborting any birth. It is certainly a subject that deserves much conversation, and should not be handled in less than 140 characters.

But as I was reading the comments directed at Dawkins I noticed that many people were stating—in various ways—that they were angry because his comments went too far.

"Going too far" suggests that his thinking is along the same lines as yours, but perhaps it is in territory that you are not ready to walk. It suggests that his logic is of the same stuff as yours and the difference is only in degrees, not in kind. But if this is the prevailing ideology of the day that many happily live by, who are we to suggest that he is wrong? What right do we have to be angry at Dawkins because he went a little further than we would usually go? Why can we have our wants guiding our will and he can not?

He is just living out the popular philosophy of, "If it feels good do it." "Do what makes you happy." Or:

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do
Well what would make him happy is the abortion of a baby that will be born with Down Syndrome. Why has the clapping stopped?

Being angry at Dawkins because he went a little too far is like judging the person that uses more dangerous drugs than the ones you use. You are traveling down the same road, they are just running faster. It is foolishness.

The call, then, is not for Dawkins (and those of his kind) to back up a little and not go too far anymore. But to become the kind of person who isn't governed by such ideas at all. What needs to happen to Dawkins, and many of us, is total life transformation. Then our will will be governed by that which is ultimate goodness (God), rather than the pursuit of a certain feeling we want.

To be governed by wants and feelings is a path to destruction by implosion. It is what the apostle Paul calls "death." Conversely, "to set the mind on the Spirit [unfathomable goodness] is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)"

Life and Peace!
I think that's what people want anyway, right? Do you think Richard Dawkins wants life and peace? Do you want life and peace? I sure do. Well the way to get there is not by willing what you want, but by setting your will on God and God's kingdom.

Paradoxically, God wants to give us what we want, but in order to get there we must get the directions, as it were, from him.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mere Ideas

Advertisements are some of the most powerful conveyers of contemporary philosophy. Take, for example, Under Armours new slogan.

This, to be sure, is meant to be understood in a context of athletic achievement. I want to excel athletically, therefore my will falls in line, and I become what I want. 


But is it wise to have a will that is subservient to ones desires? Wouldn't it be better to have a will that is not governed by your wants? Sure it is fine when your wants are for good things, but if you are the type of person who wills whatever you desire, will you not soon end up getting things or becoming someone that is not good? 

Isn't it better to will what is good and let that govern your actions? That way if there is a conflict between will and want the better might prevail.

Shouldn't the slogan be, "My will is founded upon what is good and it is good to be physically fit, so I want that. Under Armour!" 

Not as catchy.

Anyway, it's just a commercial! Right?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Never Taste Death

Her name was Lulla. She was five years old, a Brahman child of much promise. She had sickened suddenly with an illness which we knew from the first must be dangerous. We could not ask a medical missionary to leave his hospital, a day and a half distant, for the sake of one child, but we did the best we could. We sent an urgent message to a medial evangelist trained at Neyyor, who lived near, and he came at once. He arrived an hour too late.

But before he came we had seen this. It was in that chilly hour between night and morning. A lantern burned dimly in the room where Lulla lay; there was nothing in that darkened room to account for what we saw. The child was in pain, struggling for breath, turning to us for what we could not give. I left her with Mabel Wade and Ponnamal, and, going to a side room, cried to our Father to take her quickly.

I was not more than a minute away, but when I returned she was radiant. Her little lovely face was lighted with amazement and happiness. She was looking up and clapping her hands as delighted children do. When she saw me she stretched out her arms and flung them round my neck, as though saying good-bye, in a hurry to be gone; then she turned to the others in the same eager way, and then again, holding out her arms to Someone whom we could not see, she clapped her hands.

Had only one of us seen this thing, we might have doubted. But we all three saw it. There was no trace of pain in her face. She was never to taste of pain again. We saw nothing in that dear child's face but unimaginable delight. 

We looked where she was looking, almost thinking that we would see what she saw. What must the fountain of joy be if the spray from the edge of the pool can be like that? When we turned the next bend of the road, and the sorrow that waited there met us, we were comforted, words cannot tell how tenderly, by this that we had seen when we followed the child almost to the border of the Land of Joy.

The above story is from Gold Cord by Amy Carmichael. 

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” - Jesus

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Persecution of Weight Loss

Give me a break people!

Over the last few weeks I have run into a lot of people I hadn't seen in a few months. While I do enjoy reuniting with people I am getting sick and tired of the same old comments.

"How much weight have you lost?"

"Man, you're going to disappear!"

"I hardly recognized you! You look great!"

Just stop it people! I'm trying to go about my daily business like the rest of you. I don't need to be harassed by your judgements on how I look. Sure I've lost 40 pounds in the last couple of months, but I didn't do it so that you could harass me!

Sure, I have cut 2.5 minutes off my mile pace.

Yes I am able to run 6 miles straight when I struggled with 1 mile a few months ago.

But what is that to you?!

I'm already facing the misfortune of not having any clothes that fit. Do I have to suffer your verbal persecution too?

I am a person. It hurts!

Gimme a break!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dallas Willard on Idolatry

Idolatry is a mistake about reality, and an error at the "worldview" level. It arises from the crying need of human beings to gain control over their lives. That need is understandable, of course, and it must be met in some way. But idolatry tries to meet the need by assigning powers to an object of human imagination and artifice, powers that object does not actually possess. It usually thinks of the object as a living being—monstrous in appearance and nearly always an animal or something animal-like—for it must be capable of action. In modern life it is more likely to be some sort of technical device or human arrangement (the government or the "market," perhaps) that we have come to trust. The "idol," then, is more than just the physical object, for it is supposed to have powers that, if humans appropriately serve it, will be used to benefit them. In the end the idol is always intended to be servant of the idol worshipper and their desires. Thus it is humans themselves who are the universal idol, and that is why Paul call covetousness idolatry (Col 3:5; Eph. 5:5). In coveting I elevate myself to the position of having my way and getting the things I want—regardless of others. But idolatry, of whatever kind, never works out well, because it is, precisely, a flight from reality, and often, from knowledge of reality.

Willard, Dallas. Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge. New York: HarperOne, 2009. pg. 40-41. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Kingdom of God By Francis Thompson

The Kingdom of God

By Francis Thompson  (1859–1907)


O WORLD invisible, we view thee,

O world intangible, we touch thee,

O world unknowable, we know thee,

Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!


Does the fish soar to find the ocean,

The eagle plunge to find the air

That we ask of the stars in motion

If they have rumour of thee there?


Not where the wheeling systems darken,

And our benumbed conceiving soars!

The drift of pinions, would we hearken,

Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places;

Turn but a stone, and start a wing!

‘Tis ye, ‘tis your estrang├Ęd faces,

That miss the many-splendoured thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)

Cry—and upon thy so sore loss

Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder

Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.        


Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,

Cry,—clinging Heaven by the hems;

And lo, Christ walking on the water

Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!