Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cartesian Roots.

We all come from them. Our societal upbringing has made it so. It is as though we were bathed in its understanding from the minute we came out of the womb.
I just spent the entire day working through the concepts of knowledge and reality that can be found through a study of Chesterton's orthodoxy. I myself studied these concepts a little over a year ago. Now, as I go back through them at a completely different stage of life, I am affected in an entirely different way.

We talked about how the modern man boils down his reality to what he can understand. He has tried to understand it all but discovered he could not. So he simply rid himself of everything he could not rationalize. We discovered this process leads to an insane simplicity; an unhealthy and untrue simplicity.

Then we went on to the connections of this with other thoughts; specifically that of humility and mysticism. We discovered that it takes humility to step outside of your nicely constructed frame and look at a reality which may not directly be yours. At the same time, in order to understand a reality which is not your own, we discovered, you need a healthy appreciation of the unknown. You need a healthy balance of understanding what is and the possibility of what could be.

After the eighth time we went over this, I discovered a contradiction for myself. Comparably, the existentialist view we have of life is a direct antithesis to what we were created for. I think I discovered this a few months ago, but the phrasing of this is so important. The existentialist view states ". . . the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts" ( This is the materialist's view. This is living within a self-contained box that we control. We discovered that not only does this lead to insanity, but also to incredibly hardened hearts. When you take away any question, any doubt, any grey, you take away all freedom. Thus, I've never met an sane existenialist.

When we try to have all the answers, when we try to be the center of everything, we get hurt. We give up relying on anything greater than ourselves, so we need to be strong. We need to be stronger than everything else that may come up against us. This leads to hardened hearts. This leads to bitterness and anger and envy and strife. This is not what we are called to.

What we are called to is to have softened hearts. We are called to not have the answers but to allow Christ to rule in our lives in a way that gives peace and allows us to live with the grey. When we put our faith in the unfailable Christ, we are given a foundation that can never fail. When we stand upon that foundation, therefore, we have the freedom to question and doubt and live. Mysticism therefore is a call to softened hearts.

We all come from them. But they don't have to define us. Our world is the direct antithesis of what we are called to as followers of Christ. What choices are we going to make then, to live apart from that?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goes before the fall . . .

A wise friend of mine and I were talking the other day about her Grad School studies. She's in the process of writing her Thesis and in her studies found an interesting thought (or fact) that related closely to the realities of my life.

She found that the greatest struggle for performers today is character. Because of the politics, ethics and competition, envy, pride and jealousy are seemingly natural reactions to what is going on around them. But for the Christian performer this causes a problem. These struggles are in no way less real because that believer has Jesus. As a fallen race these reactions really are natural. Fighting against them is what is not. So what is the believer to do when faced with these issues. Believe that that gift is from God? Yes. Believe that God is sovereign over the opportunities of your performance? Yes. But try as we might, sometimes we need a little more than this.

As I was thinking about this and repenting of sin in my own life, I discovered that another level of integrity needs to be found that we may continually live above reproach and love as God would have us love in the midst of politics, ethical issues and competition.

Handily, as I was realizing this, I was also reading in the book of James.

In chapter three he speaks of a certain "wisdom from above." Elusive? Yes. Let me expand.

Sometimes we think we're smarter than we are. We develop an arrogance in our hearts that tells us that we are it. When this isn't fulfilled then, pride, jealously, envy, all occur.

James writes that this wisdom, the wisdom of our own hearts is not from above. It is the wisdom of the earth. You don't have to be a genius to realize that the earthly population isn't very wise. Yet, we continually live as though we have the answers; as though we are the answer.

James goes on to write that "where jealously and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing" (3.16). Chaos and panic ensue when we are trying to live for ourselves and provide ourselves with the wisdom to live rightly. This may be the answer to all of our problems.

The answer is for us to live not pridefully, or with jealousy raging in our hearts but instead purely, in peace, gentlely, reasonably, mercifully and without hypocrisy (3.17).

Pat answer? Maybe. Truth? Yes.

I had to make amends with a few people last week for the pride and envy toward them that I was living with. Since then, I have been able to look at them not in envy, but in love knowing that God is sovereign and he created them in love as much as he created me in love.

This is the wisdom from above. This will never cause us to fall.

Pride however . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Christmas Song.

Here's what I love about Christmas.

As a college student Christmas always comes early. We try and wait till at least after remembrance day. Or if our roomates aren't feeling it, the 15th. For me, the Christmas music comes out straight after halloween.

We decorate, we sing, we dring hot drinks. It's happy; one might even consider it peaceful.

But the time of year doesn't really speak to peace in our hearts and minds. I was confused by the conept of 'miracle month' when I arrived here in my first year. At my old college, the profs had handily worked things around each other's schedules. We were small enough to do so. Come the middle of November, though, I fully understood that it was going to take a miracle to get me through those weeks.

This was the time that I trained my body to fully function on 3-4 hours of sleep. We avoid everything we need to do. We get sad. We get dramatic. We sleep or find alternate modes of avoidance.

Life is the worst it can be. Supposedly.

Yet . . . when we return to our rooms at ten pm after spending the previous five hours in the Library, we see the wreath hanging on our door and the lights from the tree on our desk and the hope we once had fills us again. It's going to be okay.

It's going to be okay because love came to earth to save us from the plights we had gotten ourselves into. Jesus Christ came to save us. And though it happened in the past and we still have to 'suffer' through our assignments now, he came; he lived; he loved; he died; he saved.

It's going to be okay.

As followers of him, the beauty of his coming and of his life, overrides everything we see as impossible in the day to day. Through all of stress and frustration and lack of sleep, he came.

And it's going to be okay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peace Talks.

Once when I was in high school, I was sad. Once doesn't really say a whole lot as I was sad most of the time. The point was that I walked out of a building in town to a dark winter sky and perfect snowflakes falling so I could see them in the light of the street lamp. I stood there and watched them fall for a few minutes and thought to myself, this is peace.
The perfection of the moment; the stillness; the silence. But peace never lasts does it?
As I was standing there the phone rang inside and broke it all. It broke my peace.
I was thinking about this tonight as I walked in that same atmosphere of silent, still, and dark perfection and I thought to myself, why doesn't peace last? Why does that impervious phone ring and break everything for me?
The dictionary has a lot of definitions for peace. One of the significant ones that I found, however, defined it as stillness and silence. And when we translate that to our hearts, minds and souls, it means that we need stillness and silence in our hearts, minds and souls.
But peace is so fleeting; it just doesn't seem to stay. But in all reality, it was meant to.
A relationship with Christ enables us to have continuous peace that lasts. Peace was meant to last . . . but somehow it doesn't.
I think this has to do a lot with our societal need for tension. If we're not in constant state of stress something must be wrong, as opposed to the other way around. We need to find a way to break this cycle. We need to find a way to make peace real; something that is relevant; something that doesn't consist of just a high.
I don't have any answers here. I just want to send these cosmic questions out into the void. Maybe the answers will find their way to my heart.