Friday, August 19, 2016

Imagine there's no...

You've heard the song. Beautiful. Wildly famous musicians made it world-famous and its magic lingers on.

Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try,
No hell below us, Above us only sky;
Imagine all the people living for today...

Imagine there's no countries, It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for, No religion too,
Imagine all the people living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us, And the world will live as one.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us, And the world will live as one.

Those who know me may brace and cringe for the diatribe, the disgusted dismissal of the drivel. (Come to think of it, that sounded about right!)
But no, a song that has such appeal deserves thoughtful attention. A few bullets and I'm done:
  • The music is beautiful and enchanting.
  • The words are too, combining for magical aesthetic harmony and otherworldly power.
  • The meaning expresses grand longings of the human spirit, coupled with impossibly obtuse philosophical awareness.
  • The meaning mocks the reality we live with.
  • While we dare not mock the desire for peace, the means by which such peace will be gained is cruelly naive.
  • Peace will never happen this way, because people are fallen. Every. One. Of. Us.
  • Christ brings the now and not yet. Real peace from the inside out now. That reality giving tangible hope for the 'yet-to-come' -- the new heavens and earth where the curse of sin is no more and peace rules.
  • Proof? The mystery and glory of the cross.
So I find, in the end, the lyrics damnable and damning, as is anything that fundamentally denies reality. I understand the truly figurative meaning of the various words. By "religion" for example he can only mean organized religion as such; for to disallow the concept of religion would negate the song's message. He is doing nothing if not proposing a new religion of peace.

But in a world wildly afflicted with something badly wrong; and with a purview that disallows both sin and possible real personal savior, the song fails. Deeply sad, because so beautiful. And that makes it all the worse.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Alaska Weather

When I saw this Alaska weather pie chart I had a good belly laugh. Yes, winters are long, but 85% of the year?!?! Not quite, but it can seem that way!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kreeft on Suffering and Love

Perhaps we suffer so inordinately because God loves us so inordinately and is taming us.

Perhaps the reason why we are sharing in a suffering we do not understand is because we are the objects of a love we do not understand.

Perhaps we are becoming more real by sharing in the sufferings that are the sufferings of God, both on earth, as part of Christ's work of salvation, and in heaven, as part of the eternal life of the Trinity which is the ecstatic death to self that is the essence of both suffering and joy. (78)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pascal on Eternity

"...a nothing of eternity, and an eternity of nothing..."

Ran across this from Pascal -- had never seen it before. So true and cuts to the heart of Jesus' command to not worry and Paul's "do not set affections" on this world and James' "life is a vapor". How could it be that we have things so backwards? The Fall did more than we can imagine. As Peter Kreeft has it, "We read the Times when we need to read the eternities." Pascal says it so well:

"Our imagination so powerfully magnifies time, by continual reflections upon it,
and so diminishes eternity for want of reflection,
that we make a nothing of eternity, and an eternity of nothing;

and so vigorous and deeply rooted is this propensity, that the utmost efforts of our reason cannot extirpate it."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kreeft on the Problem of Evil: "shiny reason is not the answer"

"Shiny reason founders; only opaque paradox stays afloat."

As Kreeft lays out the plan of the book he says he will first work through ten easy answers to the problem of evil -- answers which turn out to be inadequate. See how artfully he explains this rationale:

Each of these ten answers is a nice, clean shortcut around the mystery. Who wants to steer into the fog bank when there are roads running through the clean air? 

The Bible looks like a fog bank. Its story centers on mystery. Christianity is not one of the neat, clean little roads. It is like Noah's ark, a big, sloppy, cumbersome old boat manned by a family of eccentrics and full of all kinds of animals who have to be tamed, fed, cleaned, and mopped up after (remember, Noah had no deodorants!).

The ten easy answers are like sharp, trim, snappy craft with outboard motors skipping over the surface of the great deep and leaving the drippy old ark behind as hopelessly inefficient and outmoded. Their only problem is that they don't reach port. They sink. Shiny reason founders; only opaque paradox stays afloat. (page 28)

Friday, May 27, 2016

How do we meaningfully ask adult males to be men?

Over a year ago I closed a post by asking, "How do we 'meaningfully ask adult males to be men' and help them to do so?" and then said I would try to answer the question in my next post.  I since deleted that question because I thought I'd never get to answering it!  The subject is both difficult and simple, daunting and inviting.  It faces every culture and every person everywhere, and so we cannot take the easy pass.  So here goes my best effort to answer the question.

How do we meaningfully ask adult males to be men?

There is no end run on life which is another way of saying there is no end run on character.  The only way to ask adult males to be men is to be men ourselves.  This requires first of all something which should not need to be said:  it requires we believe there is such a thing as manhood, as masculinity.

The very need to define this is without doubt universal and old as time, but we cannot pass without mentioning that feminism has been no friend in this arena.  I mean clearly and plainly this: insofar as feminism and other sex/gender ideologies have made masculinity wholly subjective -- to that extent it has not been good.  That seems axiomatic to me, though I would of course listen to rejoinders and admit freely that it is -- as are all things in our current life-of-mind -- all but impossible to prove. (Which indicates it is premise level knowledge -- you either accept it or you do not.)

So, assuming there are universal and identifiable aspects to masculinity, if I were to give a minimalist answer to the above question it would look like this:

1. Men should always be honest, hard-working, provide for their own, and do their best.
2. Men should be sexually responsible.  This means saving sex for one woman, and that after marriage; and then keeping it within marriage with that one woman until death.  Singleness is a sound option, to be seriously considered as preferable for some men.  But it is not honorable unless chaste.
3. Honor really matters. Honor means to do what is right, reward rightness in others, look down upon un-rightness in others.
4. Men should use their gifts to the best of their ability to serve their loved ones and communities.
5. Men should cultivate and promote a willingness to protect their homes, communities and fatherland -- with force as necessary -- with the goal of protecting the more vulnerable and assuring that maximal life is preserved and prolonged.

That's my best effort and I hope it helps someone somewhere, just as I was helped by my own Dad, Uncles, Grandfathers, brothers, and other male examples.  Which underscores the main point: the best way to help boys become men is to be faithful to those we father by loving their mother and staying home; and by living faithfully otherwise as an example to sons not our own. For after all, when we adopt a modicum of C. S. Lewis' moderate realism about masculinity, we know that it is an innate characteristic in all men, to be cultivated, enriched, and strengthened.  This, as they say, quite literally "makes the world go 'round."

These simple truths, lived out though in weak vessels, give solid foundation to any community and nation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blogging Daily, Unknown Merit

Blogging daily fetching thoughts
from passing notions fraught
with ephemeral concerns.

Bloggers publish more than print
and so in this immediacy lent
the words are more unworthy.

Media forms of past at least
tended to a better feast
for hungry mind and soul.

Of course it's not immediate
this one often indigent -
can tend to empty words.

And poems that are not at all
though definitions hear the call
define some 'poets' who are not.

Blogging daily may have merit
Gives ambitious author carrot -
but that is meager feast.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Do Words Make Real?

Do Words Make Real?

Do words make real?
Letters, concepts shaping,
sounds and shapes reflecting
light that shines on cave's stone wall?

Words give thought --
form reception, perception;
toy with what we see,
determine what we say,
define and form.
Do words make real?
Would saying so be real?

What of music -- surely
this is real. Emotive.
Speech of soul elicits;
drawing, leading,
calling tears and laughter --
dancing, otherworldy.
The Muse and those who tease,
embedding ring in soul,
pull us where they go.
But is it real because we feel,
because we yearn, because we know?​

Sartre, Camus
and brothers told us yes -
and no, for answers cannot
be their own undoing, 
words saying words not real.

Muse - wordless -
leads in world with million
points of bearing, candles
tossed about the seas:
now raging, now calm,
now lit, now gone.

What is real?
I. Is that enough?”
Why ask? The heart knows
eternal without knowing.
To question this must speak
with empty voice;
“no” requires “yes”,
meaning nothing when “I” is gone.

Irony is weak for this,
hopeless to explain:
eye curses light,
fish defies sea,
woman denies man or man, woman.

It's very real we see
when ask
why skeptic mind alone
is given shrine, driving
masses thinking, blinking, bowing.
The only real knows there is not,” we say,
smug but dead. We implode
in word, truth, reality. Too late.
Mortality does not lie.
The end of educated ignorance,
knowing what but never why.

A call of faith breaks through,
the soul of grasping words,
the secret home of Muse:
faith, fraught with
unfriendly friends, ideas
foreign to her person.
The true heart hears her voice,
wisdom's call: “There is,
and knowing knows it so.
Question as you will;
question the questioner.
I will be here still, rejected
lover whom to lose is
to be no more.”