God, Government, Greatness: The Concept of Sin

Sin: the deliberate prevention of the realization of potential.

Just like that.

I don’t believe in Positive Divine Law (that is, something is Evil because God says it’s evil). I don’t think there are sins that are sins because they’re “against the rules.” It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t WORK (God MADE people in such a way that they constantly test the limits, they constantly tear at any boundaries around them). Establishing any Positive Divine Law is the same as forcing Man to sin, which is, I believe, antithetical to God.

No. I really don’t believe in “sins” as atomic units. Rather, I think of “sin” as a term meaning, “those actions which prevent us from attaining Paradise.”

Close enough — those people who want to look at it that way could still use that definition to incorporate those atomic sins which, by being committed, keep us from getting to Heaven. Telling a lie — bam! You’ve sinned, so you can’t get to Heaven so, in effect, you’ve committed an action which prevents you from attaining Paradise.

My point with that last sentence was to convince you to accept my definition of sin, so that we can have some mutually-agreed-upon term. From that point, I’m going to establish my position (which you’re most welcome to whole-heartedly reject).

I do feel that the ultimate goal of Man is to attain Paradise. Philosophically, that’s referred to as living the Good Life. Theologically, it’s getting to Heaven. I’m talking about both, but most concerned with the latter.

Okay. So…. There’s a very long argument here, which I should get into exclusively under the topic of God, but I think I can posit a little bit here. The ultimate goal of Man is to attain Paradise, and every Man has the potential to achieve that goal. I believe that utterly, and encourage you to believe the same. Sinning is acting in such a way as to lose your opportunity or, in other words, failing to meet your potential.

Honestly, I feel like the only Evil Thing is deliberately preventing the realization of potential. Whether it be Murder (in which you stop a life, thereby preventing the realization of the ultimate potential, in that every Man, in every moment of his life, has the full potential of the Creator within him), or good ol’ Catholic Sloth (in which a Man, with the full potential of the Creator within him, chooses not to act, not to create, but to waste his potential).

This is my beef with the Church, and with the U.S., and my answer to several of your comments. Yeah, it’s good in it’s current form. Yeah, it’s doing good things in the world, even. It’s successful. But it’s NOT living up to its potential. A church as a social club can be quite helpful to its members, but it’s squandering all the authority given it by its being the embodiment of Christ on earth. NOTHING ELSE GETS TO BE THAT. The church is the only entity with that potential, and it is using that potential in only the smallest of ways.

That I call Evil.

The U. S. as well. Most representative governments, I believe, cater to the lowest common denominator, and that inherently limits the realization of potential. That’s not just something to shake your head over. That’s SINFUL. Every bit as much as Murder.

That’s where I’m coming from. That’s my starting point. You might hear me talk of the “Godaccountant Myth” and think I’m claiming there is no evil, there is no sin, there is nothing barring Man’s entry into Heaven. By no means. I’m just saying: God doesn’t make sins — people do.

Now…I DO have answers to the theological and ethical questions that raises, and I’ll get to them in another article. For now, I’m just establishing my basic concept of sin, which goes a long way to explaining why I feel the way I do about several of the issues I’ve already brought up (spittle flying in my bewildering vehemence).

Hope that helps. More later.




I never realized I had written so many poems, or how much they said. I could put you guys through a month of Poetry Interpretation 101, and still not be done with my own stuff.

I should be a professor, just to inflict this stuff on my students.

Actually, I’ll probably save them up and use them as illustrative comments on my articles. Most of the really good ones are about religion (although I have one about the tension between Myth and Science called “I’ll Drag You Back,” of which I’m pretty proud).

The main one on my mind right now is “We Call Worship.” It’s…fascinating.

Refined Understanding (A Poem)

Okay, back to business. This is a poem, not so much proposing my ideas about Social Constructionism, but assuming them and describing their ultimate effects. If you don’t see it at first, by all means ask. I’d love to discuss this one. I think of it as one of my most fun poems.

Refined Understanding
They say the trick to making something beautiful—
To making an elephant from a block of ivory—
Is just to carve away whatever
look like an elephant.

Take away the corners, sharpened edges
Until you’re left with just the thing
staring back at critical eyes.

It works, you see. It can’t help but work.
You take away what doesn’t match, and everything that’s left
must necessarily serve its purpose.
So if function is your only goal, you’re guaranteed success.

The catch, though—there is a catch—
is that it may always be a little more like an elephant.
There’s always more to carve, to peel away,
and your little figurine gets better…and littler.

The thing is—in all your accuracy—
The thing is—with every little bit you peel away—
The thing is, as you progress and shrink
You seem to forget what got your attention in the first place:
Elephants are big.

I Feel Alive (A Poem)

This is a poem I’m thinking of submitting to the Writer’s Digest competition this year. Let me know what you think.

And, yeah, I know you’ll all be wondering, so I’ll just tell you now to keep you from having to ask. It’s Chris O’Donnell.

I Feel Alive….
I feel alive…
Like, what it means to feel alive–
Not just surviving, simply pressing on….
I feel alive, all full of life:
Vibrant, virulent, vital.

In a storm, a terrible storm all raging,
I am become the lightning strike.
Flare, fire, discharge.
Explosive and blinding and impossible to ignore.
I feel alive….

At midnight,
all the world asleep,
And the clouds conceal the paltry silver lights
and the wind’s a whisper, nothing more….
I am become the huntingbird’s shriek
The wolf’s sharp howl
The piercing cry of a predator, so mighty in his element.
I feel alive….

In the desert,
I’m the rain, cold as ice on burning skin.

In a blizzard,
I’m a fire, pop and crackle and warmth that almost hurts.

In your dreams,
I’m the moment that wakes you screaming, or smiling, or panting for breath.

I feel all full of life:
The biting of a bluster wind,
The whipcrack of a breaking limb,
The shattering of fine stained glass–
or of expensive crystal–
The bitter taste of blood,
The thunder of your heartbeat
when you’ve run too hard,
The pang of hunger, want, or need.
I am become loneliness and violence and pain…
And beauty, sweetly whispered or crashing down in waves.
I am become all the shining, pounding, loud sensations
that make a man alive.

I feel alive…
because of you.

In Loving Memory of God (A Poem)

In Loving Memory of God
The last time that I tore my clothes to shreds
And dressed in sacks, with ashes on my head
And fell upon my knees at Mercy Seat,
I thought of you, my God, and you seemed real.

The last time I placed lamb upon the stone—
A lamb that I had raised by my own hand
And tearfully I slit its precious throat—
I drowned beneath the power of your love.

The last time Holy Wrath made justice real
Before my eyes, condemning sin with fire,
I knew your truth could defeat temptation,
And whispered, “God forgive my vicious heart.”

The last time Heaven bent the world for man
And sickness melted from a broken heart
I watched a friend I’d loved rise from the dead
And felt your awesome name upon my lips.

Where is the Ghost so fiery in our texts?
Where is your magic in the world today?
Where have you gone, or from you where have we?
Or have we killed you at last?

Looking Forward: Future Discussion

Okay, as I probably got across clearly with that last post, I’m pretty into the whole religion discussion. Actually, I was mentioning this morning that I feel kinda compelled to get on with that conversation but, and this is pretty important, most of what I have to say there depends on an understanding of my concept of Social Constructionism (that is, the Human Greatness conversation).

So, unless I want to waste a lot of my time arguing in circles, I should really get some pretty heavy foundation laid on that track, before I proceed with the religion conversation. So that’s my plan.

Before I do that, just real quick, I’m going to post three poems — one for each conversation. We can discuss them at length, or we can skip right past them. Whatever you guys prefer. I’ll probably come back to them later, though, if we don’t deal with them now.

These are all older poems, and most anyone who knows me well enough to be reading this blog has probably read all of these poems (at least once). Sorry not to have new material, but I wanted to choose the bits that best illustrate the conversations I’m trying to start.

So, three poems, and then I’ll start heavily into Greatness, with the intent of segueing that directly into God. I’ll throw in little vignettes on Government just as filler mostly, because I’ve got no particular agenda there — just very emphatic personal beliefs.

Now, on to the literature!


God: Opening Shots

Personal Introduction
And now I’ve come to the one that scares me most. For one reason: Mom and Dad. I invited both of them to read this blog, and I know they strongly disagree with me on my premises here and, most of all, I realize that this is not an issue of differing opinions but of spiritual salvation.

I understand their concern.

However, for the selfsame reason I cannot casually abandon that which I understand to be God’s own Truth, for the sake of a comfortable religion. Not even for the sake of Mom. It hurts.

In the same vein, I have higher hopes of productivity from this one conversation than from any of the others. For, though I will likely never overthrow a government or practice practical sorcery (or even wizardry, but I’ll come to that later), Theology is one of few realms of philosophy in which a concentrated effort to achieve higher understanding may, in fact, significantly improve one’s life. Know what I mean? Quite simply, if I figure THIS one out, it actually makes me a better person.

So, for those reasons, I won’t hide it, and I even invite Mom and Dad to read and argue with me on this. If they do, and you find yourself reading their comments, please bear in mind (as I always do), that they are speaking to their only son, concerning his salvation. That’s…a significantly different thing from most philosophical (even Theological) conversation.

Actual Discussion
I believe in, as we called it in college, an Infinite-Personal God. I confused Daniel with that once, because he hadn’t taken the same classes I had. By Infinite, I mean the usual: Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent. By Personal I mean an actual Person. Not a human (for how many of them are Infinite?), but a distinct Person, with Personality and, more importantly, identity. I’ve got no patience with a vague concept of Nature Spirit or Life Force. Without the Personal, it might as well be evil. So say I.

I believe in an interactive God, as well. One that actively participates in our lives and responds to our prayers.

I believe in Christ, and the power of his rising. Specifically, I believe in the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. That is, I believe it to be true, and of great significance in a personal, historical, and universal sense.

I believe God made Man in his image, and by this I primarily mean…well, the whole Greatness conversation. Social Constructionism is the “image.” God made Man capable of making worlds. We do it every day. We are Creators, every bit as much as the first God. However, we have exhibited a tendency to constantly chase after pathetic shadows rather than recreating a perfect existence…ack, I’m getting into my Genesis story already, and that’s several articles all by itself.

I believe in Miracles. That’s not a big step, for a Social Constructionist. Faith is the name of the game, there. If we create our own realities, naturally they should be a certain kind of fluid, given a faith-induced flexibility on the part of the Creator (e.g. “us”). Miracles are some of my favorite aspects of my theology: they are exciting, pleasant, potent, easy to accept, and don’t tend to upset anyone.

I haven’t said much upsetting yet. Here’s this: I believe, with religion, we have consistently through every iteration returned to the pre-Christian state that necessitated the existence of a Christ in the first place. I feel we have sanitized Judaism by removing the sacrifice (and, with that sanitation, robbed it of the gold and fire that kept our hearts entranced), but maintained the cold, fictitious feel of rightneousness. I feel every human religion — and in this I include every subtle brand of Christianity — every human religion eventually attempts to place God precisely at arm’s length.

My father’s religion doesn’t do that. My mother’s religion doesn’t do that. But their church’s does. That’s a very important point.

What, then? Ack. I can’t possibly answer every question (not even touching on the basics) in one post, but I can’t do justice to any point without answering every other.

I read in every word Jesus spoke a call to a personal relationship with God IN SPITE OF the governing religion — the religion handed to the people directly by God. This is the story of Jesus. He started with Judaism as a foundation (and I won’t deny the whole canon of Christianity that I use as my own foundation), but he called his followers away from it, to something better. He defied it, for something better.

Not only did he, but all of his followers as well. It was his command.

What does this all mean? I don’t know yet. I certainly can’t say yet. I’ll get to it. I don’t ever see someone going to church and think, “That person is evil for what he’s doing.” Rather, I see this thing, this shadowy, vacant social club, and know what it could be, and grieve that it’s not.

That’s much like what I said in Government earlier. I don’t hate America for being a terrible thing — I grieve that it is only what it is, when it has such potential. I feel the same for the religion of Christianity. It’s not a painted clown (I have far more respect for it than that), but it is also no Christendom, no glowing firebrand to sear the heart and capture the eye. It’s an accountant’s rulebooks, and a mumbled answer, and a carrot on a stick.

I haven’t finished. I haven’t even properly begun. I feel like I’ve said enough to get myself in trouble, but not nearly enough to explain anything. You’ll notice I generally feel that way, throughout these posts — I feel that way at the end of every conversation like it. I’m a Born Christian, and the guilt is strong in me. I often let it get in the way of making my point, which is unfair to me and to those people trying to understand. It’s part of why I’m doing this (and part of why it’s so hard).

Bear with me, please. As I said, this is the most important bit TO me.


Greatness: Opening Shots

I’ll say up front that most of my thoughts on Human Greatness are nothing more than a wholehearted adoption of Post Modernism. If you’re familiar with Post Modern thought, and Social Constructionism in particular, you’re already aware of most everything I have to say. That said, I haven’t read the canon of the philosophy nearly as extensively as I should have, so I would still invite you to read my comments and question or correct me where appropriate.

As a matter of fact, very little of the radical philosophy I’m espousing here is, in fact, new material. Ehh, I’ll take Solomon’s word for it and just say “none.” I’m very much aware of that — most of what I’m trying to do is revive old ideas that have been forgotten, primarily (in my opinion) because of the unique success of the United States model. Something absurd happened here, and because of that the whole world has begun to define what it is to be human, based on what it is to be American.

Yeah, that sounds arrogantly American, and it is, but not in the way you’re first reading it. Perhaps I could say more clearly, that we now define what it is to be human based on what it is to live in a world dominated by the unique American culture. Perhaps you’ll at least give me that?

Anyway, I’m blogging here, not debating. If you pressed me on it, I’d probably surrender that point, apologize for offending you, and word it differently. As it is, I’ll just say things the way I mean them, philosophically, and leave the literal politics out of it.

So. We have this: Human beings construct their own realities. It is the divine spark within, it’s the breath of God. Personally, I think it’s in the blood (thus Vampires, but I’ll get to that later, here or there). This particular concept will cross back and forth with my talks on religion, because I think it’s clearly the message of the Bible. But, as I say, I’ll get to that later.

People construct their own realities. Complete, whole, real realities. Not that you construct a fantasy within a naturalistically true and real environment — not in the LEAST. Naturalism is, itself, constructed. That’s why Science works, and why it’s so comprehensible to us — we made it that way. But I’ll get to that later.

People construct their own realities, and merge these individual realities by way of Language. The spoken word is the means by which we enforce our conception of reality on others. I hold that there IS a true reality, but our individual realities need not overlap it in any way, ever (not that it is a defining baseline for our experiences). Also, there’s no concrete way of distinguishing the real from the constructed, although I like to hope that people have an invisible instinct for it.

This…will probably be my least coherent conversation. But it’s my favorite, and provides a starting point for all the rest of my philosophy. It also gets a lot less argument, because it’s hard to argue, so I haven’t gotten much chance to refine my opinions. I generally get either, “That’s absurd. Shut up. You couldn’t possibly prove that,” or, “How interesting. Really, I’m interested. Hmm….” which, in either case, lends little to the development of a clear curriculum.

Government: Opening Shots

I will (always) begin with this: The United States of America is an exception.

Ack, I wanna put that in bold and repeat it four or five times. You cannot — CANNOT — discuss philosophically what human government is or should be based upon what the world has seen in America’s wholly unique situation.

You can argue this with me if you want, but I doubt I’ll surrender the point. It is a base fallacy to believe that another country — ANY other country — could mimic the structure and philosophy of American government and achieve anything resembling the success the United States have enjoyed.

Honestly, in these opening shots I’m saying almost everything I have to say about government. That, no matter how much you like the US government, or how successful it may have been, the government that made it so is NOT the ideal form of human government.

That’s where I’m headed. I’m a monarchist. A Monarchist, even. Not a Constitutional Monarchist, inasmuch as I can avoid it. A true, pure, absolute Monarchist.

Ah, one more thing: no, my belief in monarchy is not founded on the condition that I get to be king. That’s NOT the point. Ever suggest it again, and I’ll punch you in the face.