Greatness: The Seventh Sense

I have a quote for you today, a passage from “The Once and Future King.” First, though, let me mention the book to you.

You should read it. You, personally, should read it, if you haven’t already (or haven’t otherwise made your own study of King Arthur’s legend).

It’s the story of King Arthur. It’s actually (at least presented as) the STORY of “Le Morte d’Arthur,” Mallory’s ancient work on the legend. It is much more readable, HIGHLY political in nature (that is, the author uses the story to make some very deliberate and apparent points which I quite doubt are inherent to the legend), but still a very worthwhile read.

You have heard of King Arthur. It’s really a good idea to learn something about the man. About the legend, rather, which is more meaningful in its way.

Also (and this perhaps more than all the rest I’ve said) there should be a LAW that no one is allowed to watch the movie “First Knight” unless they’ve first read “The Once and Future King.” I mean that most earnestly! Dirty stinkin’ movie….

*Mutter, grumble.*

Okay! On to the nature of Man, and the human experience:
There is a thing called knowledge of the world, which people do not have until they are middle-aged. It is something which cannot be taught to younger people, because it is not logical and does not obey laws which are constant. It has no rules. Only, in the long years which bring women to the middle of life, a sense of balance develops. You can’t teach a baby to walk by explaining the matter to her logically–she has to learn the strange poise of walking by experience. In some way like that, you cannot teach a young woman to have knowledge of the world. She has to be left to the experience of the years. And then, when she is beginning to hate her used body, she suddenly finds that she can do it. She can go on living–not by principle, not by deduction, not by knowledge of good and evil, but simply by a peculiar and shifting sense of balance which defies each of these things often. She no longer hopes to live by seeking the truth–if women ever do hope this–but continues henceforth under the guidance of a seventh sense. Balance was the sixth sense, which she won when she first learned to walk, and now she has the seventh one–knowledge of the world.
I don’t think the author is being particularly sexist here–White refers to women so often in this passage because the characters under discussion are Guinever and Elaine–both young women. And the “seeking the truth” bit is a direct reference to the motives of Lancelot, who is the common link between them.

I like this passage a lot. I like the idea of developing a special sense of balance to get through life, even when it refuses to obey any logical rules. (For one thing, it makes me hopeful.) I have my doubts that the world is ever as logical as you guys all think it is.

White says that young people believe in order and rules, and older people give up on that (obviously that appears briefly in the quoted passage, but there is more detail on it later). I don’t feel like I’m old before my time (which is a change, really — for all of my childhood I felt that way, even through high school). But I think I see more chaos in life than most of you do. I like the idea of learning, with time and experience, not see some order beneath it, but just to find a way to weather it.

Also, I really like this passage because it feels like something I would write. The voice and the sentiment…it works for me.

Greatness: Reading Recommendation

(First, let me say this: if you people don’t COMMENT, how am I going to know how wrong I am? C’mon!)

Okay, finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (it’s mentioned in the Recommended Reading post I made earlier). I now highly urge you to read this book. Not just because it’s got ideas relevant to these Conversations (which is why I recommended it before), but just because it’s a tremendous read. Everyone who reads this blog at all, will enjoy reading that book.

It’s amazing what the book is attempting to do. Y’know how the Romans didn’t feel like their people had a strong enough sense of pride in their Romanity, so they made up the story of Aeneas to connect their history to the ancient Greek mythology?

No? Well, they did. And it worked. And I think, at some point, Julius Caesar ended up tracing his ancestry back to Mars or Apollo or some such. The deMedicis did the same thing, creating a myth that they were somehow part of a much greater, ancient mythos.

It feels like Samantha Clarke is trying to do that for Britain today. She’s telling this story that is clearly fictional as though it were history, and she is setting up precisely that kind of myth. It’s as big as King Arthur, in its own way. It’s one of those stories that is more real than actual history, because it brings Meaning to the lives of the people.

Daniel and I have often discussed the need for more mythology in today’s world, and pretty much decided it would have to be some new kind of thing. Something that incorporated technology and naturalism and (*shudder*) logic, in order to WORK with today’s expectations.

Samantha Clarke didn’t bother with that. This is pure, old-fashioned, highly Brit-Lit mythology. I love it. It’s incredibly fun to read.

Also, I get the impression there’s going to be a sequel, but the book is quite excellent as a standalone.

Anyway, go buy it. Read it. And, also, comment on my posts, or else!

God and Greatness: Those Who Are For Us

I went to church with Trish last night. I’ve commented before how topics on my mind seem to crop up throughout the day in surprising places, most notably at church. There was a Bible passage I’d discussed with Toby at work yesterday morning, and when I sat down in the pew for class Wednesday night, I actually thought to myself, wryly, “I wonder how that passage is going to come up in Terry’s lesson.”

Unfortunately, he robbed me of that opportunity. He opened the class with a question — what Bible passages or Biblical concepts do you think of when going through a tough time, for consolation — and the passage on my mind was too perfect an answer. So I brought it up, and spoilt my little game. Alas.

Anyway, here’s the passage we discussed yesterday:
Now the king of Aram was warring against Israel; and he counseled with his servants saying, “In such and such a place shall be my camp.”

The man of God sent word to the king of Israel saying, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Arameans are coming down there.”

The king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God had told him; thus he warned him, so that he guarded himself there, more than once or twice.

Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?”

One of his servants said, “No, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.”

So he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him.” And it was told him, saying, “Behold, he is in Dothan.”

He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.

Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”

So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see ” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria.

When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the LORD opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?”

He answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.”

So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel.

I always have a little trouble at this point, deciding whether to make a sermon out of the passage (as long habit in the church of Christ and as son of a minister have taught me to do), or do I just make my point, and get on with it.

I love II Kings, though, and all the stories therein, so I think I’ll make a sermon out of it, and hope that you get my Conversation points in the process.

First, notice what is going on in this passage. Pay attention to the way Elisha uses the power that God has given him. He is spying on an enemy king, to protect his own nation (and I’m very much caught up in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel right now, so this concept is very much on my mind). It’s essentially a political use of magic power.

When the Aramean army shows up at Elisha’s house, his servant freaks out. I realize we all know this story, but look what’s happening here (in the terminology I’ve been using). The armies of men show up, all terrifying in their Constructed might. They have learned how to use weapons to impose their will on the world (their own world, and those of others). They have learned how to unite their wills in great numbers, to overpower smaller numbers of men. They show up in great power, to threaten the Man of God, and his servant is afraid.

And Elisha just tuts, and asks God to open his eyes, so that the servant may see the great host arrayed around him. Elisha is a Man who lives by faith, who casually accepts the inexplicable presence of God’s Real Truth in his life, so he’s not blinded by Constructed reality. He doesn’t hide the power of God from his own mind, he accepts it on its terms. He doesn’t recognize the Constructed strength of his enemy, for he knows that, in Real terms, it’s insignificant.

And so he prays, and for a moment at least, his servant is able to see the world as it really is. He can still see the Aramean army around him with their temporal power, but all across the hillside he can see the fiery host, the army on Elisha’s side.

And then…well, there are two ways to interpret what it was he saw. Perhaps it was the Heavenly host, God’s army of angels lined up to do battle with the enemy. That’s what I was always taught to read, here. And if that’s the case, then it’s an army of Real Truth that can wash away Constructed might as though it were nothing, cobwebs and moonlight, by its sheer DENSITY. I think there’s reason to believe differently, though.

The passage just before this, in II Kings, is of the axehead that floats. If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend you go read it. Briefly, a man is out chopping wood, and loses the head of a borrowed axe in the river. It sinks, and the man is distraught, but Elisha comes and convinces the axehead to float up to the surface, and the fellow gets it back.

We are not supposed to believe, there, that Elisha summoned an angel and asked it to fetch the axehead for him. I’ve never been given THAT impression. Rather, I think it was a little Construction on Elisha’s part. By faith, he knows how ephemeral this world is, and by faith he is willing to release himself from it, to shape it as God wants him to. I don’t see Elisha (often) bending the world to suit him. Less so than Elijah, even. He trusts in God, and bends the world to make it more like the kind of world God would want Man to live in. That’s admirable.

I think that’s what we saw with the axehead — Construction. Elisha rearranged the natural laws so that iron would float, for just a moment, in just that place, so that reality itself bent to serve the needs of Man (its master).

And, returning to today’s passage (or, rather, yesterday’s) concerning the fiery host — here’s the thing: he didn’t USE them.

That’s the thing that makes me hesitate to call them an army of angels. Perhaps they are, perhaps the angels are just a great cloud of witnesses, and Elisha wanted to remind his servant that they existed. But it seems more like Construction to me — primarily because they took on precisely the form of an army. A Constructed thing, designed to rival the threat of Men, but magical in nature. When a mighty army of Men came against them, Elisha conjured up a mightier army of fire….

And then didn’t use them. I mean to say, I think this was just an example. Elisha was showing his servant that this world DOES NOT FOLLOW the laws we believe it follows. If a strong man comes against us, we can have something stronger on our side. If an army comes against us, we can have a mightier army on our side. It takes just the faith of a mustard seed to reorder reality….

So the servant’s eyes were opened to the power available to Elisha. The servant was able to see the protectors available. The same might that allowed Elisha to rescue a worker’s axehead also allowed him to defeat an army, but he didn’t use it.

Instead, he prayed. “When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Strike this people with blindness, I pray.’ So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.” And God did as he asked, changing Constructed reality by the power of his almighty hand. This is the density thing, again. The angels could have done the same (well, not the same as God, but they could easily have overwhelmed Constructed reality), but, as I said, Elisha didn’t call on the angels (which is why I doubt they were there — there’s no NEED for them to have been there).

The rest of the story is about respecting human beings as human beings. Elisha’s a funny little guy, but he sure comes off classy in the end of this story (and the king of Israel, not so much). It’s a good resolution, so I left it in the quote, but it’s beyond the scope of my argument, so I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve explored two possible interpretations of the fiery host here, and one is very much within my worldview and the other is probably one you’re more familiar with, but I’m not particularly arguing in support of either. The important point is this: there is something Real, all around us, something available to us that makes us more powerful than reality. More powerful than natural law or even than the world of Men.

There is something unseen, that is more Real than all the reality you deal with every day. Remember that.

Greatness: Colors Again

Daniel just sent this link, and I find it awesome.

The news story is quite short. Read it through. It’s not arguing my case at all, but it’s talking about the issue, and that alone is cool. Kris, you should love it. Nobody else really got the POINT of my question, so I’m just posting this as proof that it’s a valid question in the first place.

Thanks for the link, Dan.

God: A Tangent on Paul

This is a link Daniel sent me forever ago, which I only just now got around to reading through.

It’s mostly absurd, with some pretty ugly misunderstandings thrown in to REALLY upset you. In other words, I’m not advocating or agreeing with this guy’s ideas. But it’s an interesting read, and I recommend it to all of you. It’s not too long, and you can always stop early if you just have to….

Greatness: Point-by-Point

There appears to be some significant level of misunderstanding what I am proposing to be the case, and what I am suggesting as a profitable course of action. So let me recap. Most of these are not new ideas (within these conversations), but I’m going to try to bullet-point a bunch of them, in a good order, to actually clarify what I’m saying.

1) There are base truths. People are real things, and there are forces and energies around us (including other people) which present themselves to us through our senses.

2) Real Truths are chaotic, inexplicable things. When we experience something through our senses, we interpret it in a way that is meaningful to our brains. To do this, we build a logical structure that can rationally contain the original experience.

3) Over time, each new experience must be interpreted into our rational understanding of the world in a way consistent with others. We begin to build more and more complex logical structures in order to accomodate these various conflicting stimuli.

4) One of our strongest systems for building rational structures is Language, which we use as a foundation for most of our other techniques. We name experiences, and then are able to group similar experiences using similar names. Mathematics is as much a language as English or Swahili, and serves as a very clear example of this.

5) By sharing language between two people, we can establish common points between our rational systems, and nail down our common experiences until we share the same interpretation of the base experience. (I could write pages and pages of articles on this point alone.)

6) When we teach another person our language, we teach them how to interpret base experiences. Thus the apparent similarity between individuals’ constructed worlds is actually crafted by the process of learning to communicate — once we have a chance to compare worlds at all, we’ve already made them similar.

7) “Constructionism” refers to the process of building a rational network to accomodate the unique human experiences. “Social Constructionism” is the process of sharing our constructed systems with others, and developing realities capable of overlapping.

8) Science is a Constructed System, in that it analyzes real experience and tries to explain its relationship to other real experiences (and predict future experiences based on that).

9) Religion is a Constructed System, in that it responds to the real relationship between Man and God and seeks to address the differences between them, providing a rational (if not logical or naturalistic) structure of behavior and belief to accomodate those relationships.

10) Philosophy is a Constructed System, in that it analyzes the most challenging and inexplicable of human experiences, and attempts to consolidate them into a comprehensible explanation.

11) Social Constructionism is a Constructed System, in that it recognizes the dissociation between reality and base experience, and seeks to rationally explain the source and method of a rational reality given irrational experience.

12) Okay, I’m done with that now.

13) Constructionism is the mechanism by which Man INTERPRETS his reality but, in the process, he imposes his will on it. Consider Schrodinger for this. Or Schroedinger. Or Schro:dinger. Howsoever it is spelt. By observing, we change things. Or, rather, we incorporate into our own, personal reality, a reflection of those real things which we observe, and this reflection is shaped by our understanding thereof. Thus, though there may be real things without, unchanged by our perception…the instance of those things within our personal universe is changed by our personality.

14) All rational creatures are, as part of being rational, capable of constructing for themselves these logical fantasies which are Constructed Systems. Rational beings are able to interpret their experiences and, in the process, build for themselves operational replicas of the world of Real Truth, with a kind of mental scaffolding they are able to use to navigate it. This scaffolding, rather than the environment containing it, is then taken to be the true reality, because it is logical and consistent.

15) It is the nature of rational beings to try to exercise these powers of Constructionism. It is difficult for rational beings to accept Real Truth as it presents itself to them, they want something more comfortable. Thus the drive to Construct reality.

16) I am not a Constructionist in that I’m advocating that people Construct more. I’m a Constructionist in that I believe (or…recognize) that this is the way the world is, and I’m trying to clarify that for everyone else. Yes, Science works, but that’s no reason to BELIEVE in Science. It works because we’ve made it work. I’m not suggesting that we Construct instead of practicing Science — I’m saying that Scientists are Constructing reality whenever they try to describe it. I’m not trying to stop them, I’m just trying to change your perspective a little bit.

17) Recognizing the difference between Constructionism and Naturalism allows us to meaningfully, intelligently believe in something greater than reality while still successfully functioning within reality. Naturalism only allows the latter. (Existentialism, on the other hand, only allows the former. Dirty hippies!)

18) The act of Construction is a rebellion against God. Some of you think I was calling for people to do more Constructing. I was not. The act of Construction is rebellion against God. It’s also something very much a part of temporal life. There are ways to escape it, but those ways are not easy and they’re not natural.

19) God created temporal Life for Man as an opportunity to act out our rebellious Constructionism (which, as I said, is an inherent tendency of rational beings) within an environment of only temporary consequences. We will all Construct our experiences, throughout our life, and this is rebellion against God, but it’s allowed…temporarily.

20) Heh. Temporarily. That’s a good one….

That’s my summary. At its barest, I think you could use “Construction” as a synonym for “Worldview” and get away with it. Construction is our interpretation of our experience. However, at its true Post-modern best, Construction recognizes that this Worldview is imaginary (that’s the point of the term — it’s something we built, not something foundational), and thus subject to deconstruction and reconstruction and just general fiddling with. And, if we can do that, we have no reason to be bound to our initial understanding of reality. We can build one more to our liking or, even better, build one closer to the reality that God wants us to experience.

Got that? We can change our world. That’s the point of Constructionism. And, with faith, we can change it into something more like what God wants. That’s maybe not THE ultimate purpose of Man, but it would be pretty good preparation for accepting Paradise when it’s offered, and make a whole lot of people’s lives better while they’re living them. Which isn’t a terrible ambition, y’know?

God: A Place of Learning

I have been asked a serious, challenging question that I cannot easily answer (at least, not right away). It was asked in an email, so I could just skip it (or reply to the asker), but the fact of the matter is that I come here to be challenged and I’m ASKING for criticism of my ideas, so it would really do me no good to keep this one secret.

(And, for that matter, I’m not ENTIRELY certain that the question, as asked, was intended to be as challenging as I’ve taken it, but intended or not, it led me into this line of thought, so that’s what I’m sharing.)

The question is, “where should someone go to find the deeper meaning in life, that I’m calling everyone to HAVE.”

My assumption here is that the question was motivated by my beginnings of a tirade against the church, and that’s where I get in trouble. I have an answer, to how people could (and would more easily) find and learn Christianity without the existence of the church as we know it, but that is entirely theoretical, and no one will let me get away with it (understandably).

One of my Bible professors at college described the difference between the Temple and the Tabernacle, at such time as both existed simultaneously. There was a Temple, where people went to perform the acts of worship and (during the worst of times) idolize the priests. The Temple was a majestic place, where majestic events happened.

The Tabenacles were sort of Temple subsitutes spread across world, everywhere outside of Israel where Hebrews sought to obey the old Law. Tabernacles were a LOT like our Bible School. And by that, I don’t mean directed at Children, I just mean the Sunday morning classes without the appended worship service. It’s where Hebrews would go to learn the Law and the Prophets, to study the strictures of the Pharisees and even to learn the language. It’s also where the Bible scholars (as it were) would gather together to discuss religious issues and develop Ideas about God and his intentions for Man.

(I’m not really going anywhere good with all this. It’s just a history lesson based on a half-remembered description that I may or may not be getting right….)

Anyway. I value the present-day church for its Tabernacling. Most of my criticisms are for its Templing. The worship service (that is SO divisive), the (fairly pathetic) elevation of a priesthood, the internal focus that so many preachers preach against during the same rite that drives people to do it in the first place….

I also really dislike the Pharisaical codes (the ones Jesus railed against, and the ones we make today, like our condemning Christian children dancing, as a particular example), and those were a product of the Tabernacle. But, for the most part, I recognize the need for a meeting place and a place of learning, as we are all strangers in a strange land.

(No, God said it first. That guy just appropriated it for his book title.)

I guess that’s the roundabout answer to my question. I believe in Bible School. Personally, honestly, I’m more…well, like the Sith, I guess. Y’know, let the parents teach their kids, and if they don’t…everyone study under one master, and everyone take one apprentice. But then that leads to killing the master once you’ve learned more than he knows, and that’s just bad. Poor, poor Dr Baird….

No. That’s just me, because I’m morbidly shy (I call it “anti-social” because that makes me feel cool). I do recognize the value of Bible School. I’ve always intended it for my children. When I stopped attending church all the time, I made a determined decision to do so, but at that time I agreed with Trish that, as soon as we had children, I’d reverse that decision. Not because it would change anything, but because the children will need to learn all the things I had the luxury of growing up learning….

And I certainly don’t want them to hear my ideas only. That would be wildly unfair….

We’ll probably stay for the service, too, when that time comes. I can see its value, but I see it as a crutch. Yes, people need that sometimes, but we teach them to rely on it, we teach them to make the worship service their life of service to God (even though, yes, we preach against that once a month, there is a reason we have to do that — its built into the system). But my children will be young, then, and still in need of such things, so I’ll let them lean on the church, let them learn what they need to know.

As for me…I have a church that I regularly attend (more regularly than most people, even). I encourage and support them, and they return the favor. I strive together with them to grow in my understanding of God, and his desires for Man. And we just kinda got a Benevolence/Outreach Minister, in that Daniel has decided he needs to start doing good deeds. So there’s that. It’s mostly you guys. I’ve seen smaller churches. And EVERY big church I ever attended…I eventually found a group about this size, and spent all my time with them. This is almost no different from that, although I miss out on the arguments over piano music at a wedding held in the church building, and whether or not it was satanism to invite a hypnotist to perform at Soul Fest. But, y’know, I can mostly do without those.

I dunno. This isn’t an answer at all, but I didn’t promise one. It’s mostly ramblings, but a glimpse into my thoughts on the issue. Should be lots of good material in their for comments, supporting or challenging or (most likely) asking for clarification. Hit me with ’em. I’d like to figure out what I’m saying here as much as you would.

Greatness: Existentialism, Nihilism, and You!

Dan and Trish and I watched “I Heart Huckabees” last night (against my wishes!). It’s about an existential detective agency which you hire to spy on you, and figure out your innermost…whatnot.

I don’t like Existentialism because it stikes me as an entirely Constructed method of Deconstruction (in the movie they called it “dismantling,” but the philosophical and literary term “Deconstruction” came out of Existentialism — I believe.)

Existentialism calls for an understanding of and intimacy with the principle that all things are one. It’s got its similarities to Buddhism, with a higher degree of New Age thrown in, and here’s my problem with it: even though the language of Existentialism completely escapes the greatest problems of Buddhism (ego-centricity), the practice of Existentialism achieves the exact same effect. The one-ness is entirely internal. An Existentialist brings everything in the universe into his own consciousness, ties everything to himself, and then reacts to everything in an entirely selfish way (after all, his “self” is now the whole universe, so that’s an unselfish attitude, right?).

The LANGUAGE of Existentialism is focused on others and respect for all things and et and cetera, but the drive of Existentialism, really, is to break everything in existence down until you understand how it relates to you (oneness, right), which is essentially stripping it of its independent existence, its independent reality, and leaving behind only the ghost of it that was your constructed version.

Because, yes, everything in YOUR universe is wholly One, because all of it is the product of your mind. You can attain perfect Oneness within your universe by divorcing yourself from the connections with other Constructing realities, leaving only yours, unchallenged.

Thereby removing yourself from the human drama (as they put it in the movie) and gaining a pure understanding of everything going on in the whole universe (because it’s all the product of your own mind).

Nihilism does a very similar thing, with opposite language. Nihilism recognizes the utter incomprehensibility of Unconstructed reality, and rather than trying to draw Meaning from it (where the incomprehensible is, in my opinion, the only source of Meaning), Nihilism concludes that the whole universe is a dark, chaotic, unfriendly place. Nihilism brings people closer to Real Truth (by focusing on the incomprehensible and ignoring the Constructed), but gives them no hope and no tools to react to Real Truth once they’ve found it.

It boils down to this: Life is not Nihilistic. Life is not Existential. Life is not Christian. Life is not our explanations of Life, it’s the thing they’re explaining. At one point in the movie, Mark E. Mark asks, “Why is it we only ask the big questions when things go terribly wrong? And then, when it gets better, we forget all about it….” That’s an easy one: Life isn’t what you read about in philosophy books. Life is the normal human experience. When it starts to confuse us, though, we begin to look for a rational explanation, and so we begin constructing.

Existentialism CAN describe the human condition (Creators that we are, any philosophy can eventually be built up to describe the human condition). The thing is, it’s not how we live most of our lives. It’s not the consistent thing across human experience, it’s a manufactured and TAUGHT method of understanding that experience. All philosophies are constructed. All religions are constructed. All logical frameworks are constructed.

The thing about Existentialism, though, is that it uses the language of Deconstruction as its method of Construction. That annoys me. Really, deep down, it makes me want to punch a hippy.

Nihilism gets to me, too, because it achieves what I WANT to achieve, but leaves you at the end of your journey with none of the resources necessary to enjoy the destination. I feel sorry for people who go that route, because I can’t even argue that it’s an ineffective method, just that it’s ultimately unrewarding, and I believe better options are available.

(Argh! RELIGIONS, I said! Not God. Not Real Truth. The temporal structure we use to worship God is Constructed. That’s no heresy. The Temple was Constructed (physically, manually), but it was still a viable place to worship God. It’s no more terrible to say the methods themselves are Constructed. That’s all I was getting at.)

P. S. – I’m actually not saying anything for or against the movie here. It was a fun watch, in a delightfully wacky kinda way, it brought up some good conversation. This article is about some of the things they discussed, not what they did with them. I was impressed with the structure of the movie, in spite of its alarming hippiness. Oh, and I hate Jude Law.

God: Reframing

I want to take a moment to introduce a specific concept to you, in case you’re not already familiar. Therapists and counselors sometimes use a technique called “reframing” to help a patient deal with a traumatic or otherwise negative experience.

One of the books I’m working on, which would use largely the material I’m putting forth in these most recent conversations, I would like to subtitle “Reframing the Fall of Man.” That’s my real goal.

A reframe is essentially a deliberate shift in perspective. The goal is to take a real, actual thing that is hurting the patient, and then change the patient’s perspective in such a way as to make that real thing USEFUL to him. It’s not a denial of the existence of the problem, but it’s a conscience decision to grow from the it, rather than to just be victimized by it.

Therapists, I’m sure, use lots of tricky techniques to trigger the reframe. Me, I just babble on and on until you agree to shift perspective just to get me to shut up. It’s worked so far….

But, essentially, that’s my goal here. I’m not trying to say there’s no such thing as sin, or that this life isn’t painful and unfair.

Life hurts. Horrible, horrible things happen every day.

Sin happens, and it’s really terrible. When we sin, we make ourselves into worse people, and we hurt everyone who knows and loves us.

These are real situations that are a persistent aspect of our lives, and we have, as a people, learned how to be constantly victimized by these things, feeling guilt or disgust at the God who could allow them to continue, and helplessness within ourselves. Or, those others among us, we may have chosen the denial route, pretending sin and injustice don’t get to us, and just living as the heathens do….

What we need is a shift in perspective. We need to face these things in our lives, understand why they’re there, and make ourselves better, not worse, as a result of them.

We need to reframe the Fall of Man, we need to reframe our relationship with God, we need to reframe our attitudes toward other people (saints and sinners both). We need to change the way we view everything so that we can stop feeling like the poor, wandering stranger just-a-passin’-through and start feeling like the Sons of God, adopted heirs of the King, and start living in this world as though we’re prepared for the next.

That’s my goal here. That’s what I’m after. Wish me luck.

God: Shouting Violently to Get Your Attention

What then, should we go on sinning so that Grace may increase?

BY NO MEANS! This life is our only opportunity to learn how to be good. It was given to us as a gift. Yes, we will fail, we will be forgiven for that, but if we spend all of our time JUST indulging in selfish squalor, then we are learning precisely the wrong lesson and wasting the precious gift of Life that God gave us.

If we do that, we deserve to have to make our final judgment blind….

After all, “ALL THINGS are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. ALL THINGS are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”