Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Tag

Oh, What a Boring World!   3 comments

December 3, 2018

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

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That sounds like a boring life. I don’t think I’m in favor of total-transparency living, but I agreed to do the topic, so ….

  1. I would testify more boldly of my faith to everybody I care about knowing they will not reject my testimony. Then I would testify more boldly to strangers as well.
  2. I would continue to advocate for smaller government and no government, knowing that I will one day be successful.
  3. I would invest in a startup business that I believe in knowing that it will grow and become a business that can support me through investment income.
  4. I would advertise my books in a big way knowing they will become best-sellers that will support me in retirement.
  5. I would invest in my daughter’s musical career in a big way knowing that my investment will assure her success so that she can return my investment.
  6. I would invest in my son’s rock-climbing interest in a bigger way for the same reason.
  7. And, judging from the photo above, I might go sky-diving.

Generally, I think I’d be more willing to try new activities and ventures because I would know they wouldn’t become a waste of time since success would be assured.

But I also think I would eventually become bored and stop trying new activities because the assurance of success would take away some of the enjoyment of the attempt.

Posted December 3, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Worldview in a Nutshell   7 comments

This week’s Open Book Blog Hop topic is “What’s Your Motto For Life?”

What words of wisdom do you live by? Use those as inspiration for sections and flesh out a post that shares your philosophy.

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I don’t have just one motto for life. Like most intelligent people, I’m way more complex than a single motto. I think everybody is, actually. So I have seven mottoes I subscribe to … today. Not that my philosophy changes a lot or anything, but God could teach me something new next week and these mottoes would just become interesting historical artifacts.

What If … Wasn’t. That leaves me with what-is.

“What If … Wasn’t” is actually the title of a novel I’m working on, but in examining it, I realize it is part of a life philosophy I’ve had for a long time. It may possibly be attached to an AA slogan – no regrets, no apologies – and it definitely comes from the 2 Corinthian passage about the church forgiving the sinner and never bringing the sin up again. The thought shows up in several of my writings.

So what does it mean? We can’t fix the past, so why do we cry over it? It’s okay the mourn, but not for too long. At some point you have to deal with what is happening right now. Don’t get so focused on “what if” that you aren’t dealing with “what is.”

Image result for image of not regretting the past

Winter is Coming

Yeah, that’s the Stark family motto, but it’s also an Alaska mantra. Winter is always coming. Summer is just starting. Can winter be far away? I have lived through years where summer and winter were less than three months apart. You have to be prepared for it here or you won’t survive. But it’s also a great motto for life because there are so many things that go wrong that would be completely avoidable if we just prepared for them. The financial crisis of 2008 was horrible for a lot of people. Brad and I almost didn’t notice because we were … gasp … debt free. We didn’t have a lot of money in the bank, but we had food in the freezer and on the shelves. Preparation is a good thing.

Related imageI am able to do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Life’s hard and we struggle because the world is bent, but if God’s given me a task to do, I can do it because He will walk with me. It’s important to realize the role of God in all of this. There are many tasks and quite a lot of them are worthy, but God doesn’t give us every task in the world. He gives us each what He believes we can handle. So, sometimes, if I seem to stumble and fall, it may be that I have undertaken a task that God has not given me to do … or that I am trying to do it on my own, without His guidance.

It’s important for me to consult God before I do things and recognize that there’s a lot I have done that I would not have been able to do without God’s strength. No person is an island and we shouldn’t pretend that we are.

I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

Robert Heinlein said it, but I agree with it. We live in a time when it is fashionable to “blame the other guy” for just about everything we do.  If I have a moral failing, well, it’s my parents’ fault. My neighbor “made me angry”, therefore I’m “not guilty” of whatever I did in response. I’ve been “abused.” I’m “misunderstood.” It’s “not fair.”

I don’t buy into that cultural milieu. I am the one responsible for my own actions. Conversely, you’re the one responsible for your own actions.

You don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for.

Image result for image of hardworking ballerinaThis meme was posted on the wall of my daughter’s dance studio and it showed a ballerina on point, sweat running down her neck. I couldn’t find that picture, but you get the point.

It doesn’t matter what our goals are in life … wishing doesn’t make them happen. You have to put in the hard work.  Ray Bradbury suggested would-be writers to write a short story every week for a year because it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. You also learn a lot from doing it over and over again, even if you fail to make the goal. Every time you fail, you learn what not to do and that puts you that much closer to learning what to do.

Today, perfection is not an option. What a relief!

There’s only been one perfect person in history and I’m not Him. Thank God … literally! I’m serious about this. Life would be so much easier for … well, everybody … if we’d give up this notion that perfection is achievable. We can be the very best person we can be, but we’ll never be perfect and we  ought to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to try and accomplish the unachievable.

Society without opt-outs is servitude.

Image result for image of voluntaryismYes, I’m a libertarian and I believe in voluntaryism. That’s where I am not forced to go along with the agendas of others just because there are more of them than there are me. We are extremely pleased with ourselves as a country that we have abolished slavery, but the truth is, we haven’t. We’ve just transformed it. Many people in this culture would rather be doing other things than paying taxes and getting prepared to die, but our belief that it’s okay to force others to join in our causes prevents them from being free to pursue their own interests. Who am I to decide that my societal causes are more important than theirs? And, the same goes the other way.

So, there you have it … my mottos for life … and I suspect long-time readers of this blog are not surprised by this.

Posted May 29, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Tyranny of Relativism   Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered why words such as “conversion”, “proselytize” or “born again” are now swear and smear words? At their base, they are words used by members…

Source: Tyranny of Relativism

Pluralism, Relativism & Tolerance   Leave a comment

Dip into any semi-serious conversation about Christianity today and you will hear some “buzz” words that unnecessarily intimidate Christians in public discussions as those who dismiss historical Ch…

Source: Pluralism, Relativism & Tolerance

The Birth of Modern Thought-Crime   1 comment

Cultural Marxism and the Birth of Modern Thought-Crime

Source: The Birth of Modern Thought-Crime

Who Am I to Say?   7 comments

Okay, so I put my foot in a sink hole last week and they’re hating on me at the Alaska Dispatch News. How dare I not walk in lockstep with the modern LGBT agenda! I am such a hater!  Read Part 1 of this series.

Christians can’t duck this issue anymore. Those of us who reject the legitimacy of the homosexual lifestyle are routinely denounced a homophobic, intolerant, even hateful, which results in tremendous intimidation concerning this issue. Businesses are being forced into bankruptcy or reeducation classes and some churches have even endorsed the homosexual lifestyle and welcome those who practice it to be their ministers.

It’s not just happening in liberal churches. Evangelicals Concerned is a group of people who are to all appearances born-again, Bible-believing Christians and also practicing homosexuals. They claim that the Bible doesn’t forbid homosexual activity or that its commands aren’t valid for today, being just a reflection of the culture in which the Bible was written. These people can be orthodox about Jesus and every other area of teaching; but they just think it’s Biblical acceptable to be a practicing homosexual.

So who am I (or you) to say that these apparently earnest Christians are wrong?

Good question! Who are we to say that they are wrong? This question raises an even deeper question, which we’ve got to answer first. Do right and wrong really exist? You see, we get it backwards often. You have to know that there really is a right and a wrong before you can determine what is right and wrong.

What is the basis for saying that right and wrong exist or that there really is a difference between these two?

Traditionally, Americans (not just practicing Christians) have answered that moral values are based in God. God is by His very nature perfectly holy and good. He is just, loving, patient, merciful, and generous. Everything good comes from Him and is a reflection of His character. God’s perfectly good nature issues forth in commandments to us:

  • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength.
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • You shall not murder, steal, or commit adultery.

These are examples of right or wrong based on God’s commandments, which are not arbitrary but flow from His perfect nature.

This is the Christian understanding of right and wrong. There really is such a being as God, Who created the world and made it so we can know Him. He really has commanded certain things. Christians really are morally obligated to do certain things (and not to do others). Morality isn’t just in your mind. It’s real. When we fail to keep God’s commandments, we really are morally guilty before Him and need His forgiveness. The problem isn’t just that we feel guilty; we really are guilty, regardless of how we feel. Even if my seared conscience, dully by sin or justified by a government edict, does not feel guilty, I am guilty if I have broken God’s law.

What Hitler did was sin regardless whether he or his society thought it was right. Chattel slavery is still wrong regardless if the slaveowner or the society he lives in thinks of it. Murder is still a sin even if the killer feels like he’s doing something right. It’s wrong because God says it is wrong, regardless of human opinion. Morality is based in God and are unaffected by human opinions.

There are people who will argue over that because it is a foreign concept in western society today. I estimate that the majority of people today think right and wrong are matters of taste, not fact. Moral values are given the same weight as Baskin Robbins flavors. I like World Class Chocolate. My husband loves Coffee. We can both be right. What’s the problem? It’s just a matter of opinion. I choose to cheat on my partner, you do not. We can both be right and all is well … until my partner divorces me anyway.

If there was no God, these people would be absolutely correct. In the absence of God everything is relative. Right and wrong become relative to different cultures and societies. It’s all up to the flavor-of-the-decade zeitgeist. Prominent American philosopher Richard Taylor, who is not a Christian by the way, makes this point very forcefully.

The idea of . . . moral obligation is clear enough, provided that reference to some lawmaker higher . . . than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can . . . be understood as those that are imposed by God. . . . But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of a moral obligation . . . still make sense? (Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1985), pp. 83-4)

Taylor went on to write:

 “The concept of moral obligation is unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain, but their meaning is gone. … The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, without noticing that in casting God aside they have also abolished the meaningfulness of right and wrong …. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things as war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights are morally wrong, and they imagine that they have said something true and meaningful. Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion.

This non-Christian philosopher understands that, if there is no divine lawgiver (God), then there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, then there is no actual right and wrong. They’ve just become human customs, perhaps balwarked by human laws that vary from society to society. Even if we all agree on them, they’re still just human inventions that will evolve … or devolve …eventually.

If God does not exist, right and wrong do not exist and anything goes, including homosexuality. Atheists should have no problem defending the legitimacy of the homosexual lifestyle, but that’s where a new problem arises. Many defenders of homosexuality don’t want to be atheists. They especiallly want to affirm that right and wrong exist, so they make moral judgments about their fellow citizens.

“It is wrong to discriminate against homosexuals.”

That’s a moral judgement, but not one solely relative to a culture or society. They would condemn a society like Nazi Germany which threw homosexuals into concentration camps along with the Jews and other “undesirables”, and when Colorado passed an amendment prohibiting special rights for homosexuals, Barbara Streisand called for a boycott of the state, saying, “The moral climate in Colorado has become unacceptable.”

These kinds of value judgements lack meaning unless God exists. If God does not exist, anything goes, including discrimination and persecution of homosexuals. Murder, rape, torture, child abuse … none of these things would be wrong, because without God right and wrong do not exist. Everything is permissable.

So in order to make moral judgments, we must affirm that God exists, but then our first question reappears in front of us. “Who are you to say that homosexuality is wrong?” We can put the question to homosexual activists now. “Who are you to say that homosexuality is right?” If God exists, then we cannot ignore what He has to say about the subject. The correct answer to “Who are you to make moral judgements?” is now to say, “Me? I’m nobody! God determines what’s right and wrong, and I’m just interested in learning and obeying what He says.”

So, if I’m a Christian or want to pretend to be one, perhaps I need to look at what God says on the subject.

Continued here.

Elephant in the Church   11 comments

The new form of deism is particularly distressing because churches have aided in its spread. LifeWay Resarch president Ed Stetzer, recently noted,

The elephant in the Christian church today is that we are not seeing robust disciple-making taking place. You are more likely to find evangelicals affirming that there is more than one way to get to heaven today than you were 15 or 20 years ago. Why? We’ve done great at getting them in the door and occupying their spiritual appetites, but we’ve done terrible at actually growing them up and grounding them in the faith.

There’s plenty of blame to spread around to all the denominations, but evangelicalism bears a large share of the responsibility. Many of our churches have wholly embraced therapeutic language and concepts while pretty much abandoning the role of catechesis.

Ooo, I used a Catholic/Episcopalian term. I’m still a firm evangelical. Bear with me!

Almost every nondenominational congregation has a worship leader and yet only a few have a catechist – or, more properly, a deacon (or deaconess) of doctrine. In many churches, Sunday school classes may teach the young the stories of the Bible, but few provide in-depth teaching on theology. We send our kids out into the world with little or no understanding of what we believe and why we believe it. Why are we surprised that they get lost out there when we haven’t provided them with an anchor?

New adult believers have it even worse, by the way. Most Baptist churches that I am familiar with will baptize anyone who asks for it without requiring any instruction between profession and baptism. New believers may be asked to attend a brief class, but doctrine is often given short shrift and may not be presented at all. The focus is on polity – church organization – rather than on doctrine. If these new adult believers do ask about the content of their faith — what they are expected to believe — they may be given a pamphlet or a book recommendation and a map to the nearest Christian bookstore. If they’re lucky, they end up in a great Sunday School or small group meeting run by a knowledgeable teacher, but — frankly, most don’t.

Evangelicals have mastered the task of making converts, but we are by and large failing in our duty of making disciples. Teaching the basic doctrines of the faith is not an optional task we can undertake if we have time left over from prayer breakfasts and small group meetings—it is a matter of eternal consequence. As Smith’s report shows, we no longer have the luxury of ignoring our responsibility to provide this desperately needed doctrinal instruction. We will either start making Christian disciples or our culture will continue to make deists who have a warm-fuzzy feeling for Jesus.

Modern Christian Heresies   Leave a comment

Be good, feel good, do good ….

That is what Christian Smith found in the religious and spiritual beliefs of US teens.

The gospel has been reduced to improvements in behavior. If you’re a good and moral person, you will be happy and you will achieve this by being kind, pleasant, respectful and responsible, working on self-improvement, taking care of your health and doing your best to be successful.

Have we forgotten that our Savior scandalized His generation by being crucified? We’ve traded justication and sanctification for social shame as if Paul never wrote the letter to the Galatians.

 

“We are more flawed and sinful than we ever dared believe, yet we are more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope,” Tim Keller (Gospel Coalition Blog)

Many well-meaning Christian leaders offer therapeutic solutions to the problems our society faces. If we only had hobbies or retreats or new routines …. We’d feel better about ourselves but not know God.

Deism, of course, turns God into the Divine Butler who waits for you to call upon Him to intervene like some sort of cosmic genie by granting your wishes. And, if things don’t work out the way you hoped, you can blame Him. How convenient! It allows us to work on the social gospel and feeling good about ourselves while ignoring the very real existence of sin and what God wants us to do in response to it.

Dr. Smith said that Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is not an official religion. It is “colonizing many established religious traditions and congregations in the United States.” Nearly 40 years ago, Francis Shaeffer warned that humanism was infilitrating our churches.

It’s here! And has been for a while.

Deism Old School versus New School   1 comment

Although modern historians would like us to believe that Deism exerted a overriding influence on the Founding generation, tradition deism was, in fact, fading by 1800. Its concepts had been incorporated by other theological movements (mostly Unitarianism) or displaced by a resurgence in both atheism and orthodox Christianity. Even Thomas Jefferson had become a regular church goer, though he continued to hold heterodox beliefs.

So, it might be a shock, more than 200 years later, to discover that significant numbers of American Christians, especially adolescents, are only nominal Christians with a tenuous connection to actual historical Christian tradition and embrace what Smith termed “Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” Boiled to its essential elements: a god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth; He wants you to be good and fair to each other in keeping with the Bible and other world religions; life is about happiness and feeling good about yourself; God doesn’t need to be involved in your life unless you need his help with something; good people go to heaven when they die.

The “deism” of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is only loosely connected to the Deism that was moderately popular from the 17th to the 19th centuries. While both versions of deism acknowledge a supreme deity and the reward for good behavior, the modern version avoids the discussion of punishment for the wicked. Both agree that God expects us to act morally toward our fellow man, but they differ sharply in their attitudes toward our inability to live up to our moral duties. Traditional Deists (i.e., Thomas Jefferson or Edward Herbert of Cherbury) were still influenced enough by Christianity to acknowledge the concept of sin (“we ought to be sorry for our sins and repent of them”) and express the need for contrition and repentance (“Divine goodness doth dispense rewards and punishments both in this life and after”).

The modern therapeutic deists, in contrast, believe their chief obligation is to their own happiness. If they have any conception of sin, it is likely to be individualistic, as in one famous definition: “Being out of alignment with my values.”

How come the resurrection of deism in the late 20th century and how did traditional deism transform into Moralistic Theraputic Deism? The answer lies in the middle term—therapuetic—and the man who almost single-handedly ushered in the Age of Therapy: Sigmund Freud. (PHOTO)

The God of the Deists was a far-away, radically transcendent deity. Yet the Enlightenment outlook worked to bind God closely to nature and human reason, so closely that God’s transcendence came to be dissolved in the immanence of the divine within the orderly realm of creation and reason. Rather than look beyond the world to find God, the Enlightenment ultimately turned within. (Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age)

Although both traditional and modern deists turn the transcendence of the God of the Universe into the immanence of pantheism, thus entangling it with creation and reason, the effect and emphasis differ considerably for each. The Englightenment Era deists admired Jesus as a moral exemplar but rejected him as the Son of God. The Therapeutic Era deists have no qualms with confessing the deity of Christ—as long as doing so will improve their own well-being and happiness.

Freud’s enduring legacy on folk psychology is twofold. Most significant was his focus on finding the true self and determining what is necessary for emotional health and happiness by delving into the hidden recesses of a person’s inner being rather than the outer influences of community and environment. Second is the language either invented by or colored by Freudian psychoanalysis: denial, projection, repression, sublimation, id, ego, fetish, fixation, introversion, anal-retentive, neurotic, Oedipus complex, pleasure-principle – terms that perpetually self-diagnosing Americans use to communicate with and understand our neighbors, and (worse) ourselves.

Therapeutic lingo forms the conceptual basis by which other technical jargons (i.e., theological terms) are interpreted. Consider the term “closure.” After trauma or loss individuals have an innate need for a firm solution rather than enduring ambiguity. Closure is a concept derived from Gestalt therapy and has no parallel in Scripture, yet it is often considered a necessary precondition for forgiveness, particularly forgiveness concerning a grave injustice. The idea that God would expect us to forgive without first experiencing closure strikes the Therapeutic Deist as akin to emotional nihilism.

These therapeutic concepts also have a way of coloring our understanding of God’s self-revelation. In Isaiah 48:11, God seeks his own glory quite openly: “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”  The modern deist sees such passages as narcissistic – another term coined by Freud – and therefore inherently negative.

In the 21st century, therapeutic language wholly replaces theological concepts. Cristian Smith notes that the teenagers in his study used the phrase “feel happy” more than 2,000 times in the interviews. None of them used the terms “justification” or “being justified,” “sanctification” or “being sanctified.” The “grace of God” was explicitly mentioned only three times.

“The language, and therefore experience,” Smith found, “of Trinity, holiness, sin, grace, justification, sanctification, church, Eucharist, and heaven and hell appear, among most Christian teenagers in the United States at the very least, to be supplanted by the language of happiness, niceness, and an earned heavenly reward.” Smith views this not as a sign that Christianity is being secularized, but that it is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or being replaced by a quite different religious faith.

And, it is a faith that churches are at least partially responsible for creating.

Is It All About Us?   Leave a comment

The article I posted on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism came to my attention in a roundabout way, but it spoke to my own concerns for the degradation of American Christianity. You can argue with me if you want, but I think the study was dead on and that we’re in trouble.

 

I don’t think Dr. Smith did a very good job of explaining what he meant by “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”. He gave examples more than a definition.

 

Today’s youth – and to a large extent, today’s adults — who claim the mantle of “Christian” have replaced vital, sacremental, evangelizing Christianity with “moralism” – a set of rules and regulations that can be interchanged for different subsets of society. A suburban congregation might value respectibility and good manners. A liberal, socially aware or hipster group might value ecology, the right attitude on human rights issues and the right political stance. A conservative Christian congregation might focus on sexual morality, modesty and the right religious rituals. None of these moral focuses are necessarily wrong, but morality is not faith. The mistake we’ve made is in substituting the rules and regulations for faith.

 

Of course, nowadays many who claim the mantle of Christianity have replaced religion with therapy. Rather than recognizing that faith is all about God and worshipping Him, we seek religion to help us in some way. The urban congregation might be all about recovery from addictions, advice on money matters or help with parenting skills. The classic suburban church might focus on feeling good about onesself, the blessings of wealth, or using church to get kids into good private education, the right college and a “good” job.

Religion is seen as useful if it makes us feel good. Whether in a raucous charismatic service or high church aestheticism with ornate ritualism, a feel-good sermon and heart-stirring music are seen as essential to put the congregation in its comfort zone. We don’t want the pastor to preach on painful or controversial subjects. We want our church to be as warm and comforting as a flannel blanket and a well-made cup of coffee, preferably with sugar and cream.

 

Again, there’s nothing wrong with receiving a good feeling from religious observance, but just as rules and regulations are not faith, good feelings cannot replace the Holy Spirit’s guidance and correction in our lives. Regulations are useful guidance tools and there is entertainment value in good feelings, but it’s not the same as God in your life.

Deism is a belief that God is “out there” and not all that involved in our lives on a daily basis. We believe in God, but we don’t have a regular conversation with Him. As long as we follow the rules and feel good about it, God is pleased and generally, so long as we don’t do anything really bad, He won’t notice.

Because God is a disconnected benevolent father figure rather than an active, personal Savior, our faith reverts to a system of religious rules and regulations, therapy and good feelings. For many, Christianity has become little more than a rock concert (swaying to the music with our hands in the air) or a football game (shouting out our praises in refrain to the cheer-worship leader). Christianity has taken on the veil of hobby or leisure pursuit as our faith has been replaced by religion.

Might I suggest … it’s become all about us rather than about God.

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