Archive for April, 2007

Philosophy does not exist in a vacuum

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Johnny had a great post over at TheFireSermon regarding how we should approach the big philosophical questions. In a book he sites, there are two general kinds of approaches, both relating to a person’s temperament: tender minded and tough minded.

Those who are tender minded are, Intellectualistic, Idealistic, Optimistic, Religious, Free-Willist, Monistic, Dogmatical. The tough minded are, Sensationalistic, Materialistic, Pessimistic, Irreligious, Fatalistic, Pluralistic, Skeptical.

To me this is a great direction, and my interest would be to further break down the sources of a person’s temperament. Where does it come from? How is it formed? Read the rest of this entry »

Firefly

Monday, April 9th, 2007

My wife’s parents came up to visit to help us with our first week with our newborn baby. They are awesome! Anyway, they went out and bought a season of a sci-fi series that I’ve always wanted to see – called Firefly. We all watched the first 4 episodes in one sitting – they were really good. One of the many reasons I loved the show was because of how they incorporate religion – with one of the main characters on their ship who is referred to as a shepherd.

My thinking on the subject is best summed up by what the captain says about shepherds: “They’re no fun to be around because all they do is make men feel guilty.” This has been my impression of pastors though my life – they are one-dimensional, self-righteous, overly legalistic people that if you are a Christian, are a bore to be around and if you are not, make you feel guilty and uncomfortable in a bad way. Either this is a pattern, or I’ve had terrible luck with pastors.

How sad. The people who are supposed to represent God are so completely his anthesis. Give me a person who is full of life, full of grace, screws up a lot and is approachable, and is a total joy to be in the presence of – that is more of the person I want to be around. I think the ship’s mechanic would be a much better candidate for God’s rep. She’s absolutely charming. 🙂

However, it seems like the shepherd adapts. When the problems that this band of people encounter begin to come head-on, he has to re-evaluate his idealism and simple perspectives of life.

I think Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones seems more appropriate to Christian pastors than the Jewish people (who scholars think the prophecy was towards) in my experience – God animates them (pastors), but they are still just bones without vitality and life. To the few pastors I’ve met that don’t fit my negative stereotype – thank you for making a difference in a world that needs it.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Monday, April 9th, 2007

If anyone who is reading this hasn’t seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, I would suggest seeing it ASAP if you are a person who cares deeply about the spiritual life. Since I am spending all my time at home with my wife helping out with our new baby, we end up sitting and watching movies. We just watched it, and when I watch a good movie, I’m up half the night thinking about it.

Two things about this movie made a big impression on me. The first one was who the real heroes in a society really are. I’ve written about the concept of the hero in society before – but this movie is the embodiment of what I think one looks like.

Read the rest of this entry »

Intellectuals are all talk

Monday, April 9th, 2007

To paraphrase Bill Cosby in “Bill Cosby as Himself”:

“Intellectuals are people who study and read books about what other people do naturally”

I usually lose 2-3 hours a night (after I hit the sack at midnight) thinking deeply about something.  Here’s what keeps me up at night about being kept up at night: What’s the difference between the non-intellectual and the intellectual? Well, one person can defend what they believe better, but what good does that do the world? It seems that if deep thinking has any use, it must lead to action. If all I do all day is think but never act on my thinking, what difference have I made than the person that just does good naturally? If I pound my head over the sovereignty of God vs. the free will of men, but a Calvinist friend is out helping the poor in a soup kitchen, in the end, who is the better person? The one who acts, not the one who simply thinks or talks. Christ says much the same thing when speaking to the religious leaders of the day.

The one thing about people who are legalistic (have a billion rules about what is wrong to do) is that for all their excessive, non-biblical moral rules, they ALWAYS have license – areas of their lives that are grossly amoral. In other words, they are compensating. Christ made this apparent to the religious leaders – they where hellfire sure to tithe down to the leaf of every herb in their personal gardens, but failed miserably to live up to the much more important things – practicing justice, mercy, and faithfulness. “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

About a year ago, I decided that I am prime pickings to be a Pharisee. Its not a matter of attitude, it’s what you become by default if you love learning and studying spiritual things. I now have three whole shelves dedicated to Bible commentaries and philosophical books. Every new book I buy and place on those shelves is another nail in the coffin of who I am becoming if I am not careful. Even the Apostle Paul warns about this before he talks about Love in the famous love chapter quoted in most Christian weddings – Knowledge puffs up. So here’s the damning equation: Love of learning leads inevitably to pride which leads to inevitably to a self-centered life.

Here is what I am prone to do: I sit at my desk or chair with a great book, and my wife works downstairs with the chores of cooking and cleaning and looking after our now two children. I am reading a book on how to be more like God. For God sake, the stupidity! A more godly thing to do would be to go down to her and help her with the dishes and cooking the meal and watching the kids. I just did it again today. I played a video game where I am the hero out to save the world, (which is a great boon to my heart) but in real life, I sit at my computer for hours while my wife who has to nurse our new baby and cook dinner for our hungry daughter. I’m too busy pretending to be brave and helpful to a fantasy world to help even my wife a little in the real one.

I said my wife has done a lot in our community and church and work – its very true. Here’s the funny thing – she really beats herself up for not being spiritual and regularly thinks she’s a terrible Christian and looks to me as being the ideal. I just want to cry when she says that. I’m more to be pitied than to be looked up to. After 7 years of marriage, if she doesn’t see it that way (the hypocracy) then she probably will soon. I’m trying to shape up before she looses more respect for me 🙂 Thankfully, I have a very gracious wife. I’m more critical of myself than she is.

Intellectuals are like legalists, they overcompensate for something they lack elsewhere. Legalists lack morality in some secret or subconscious area of their lives, Intellectuals lack action.

When I talk about action, I’m not talking about gigantic crusades to change our nation or culture. I’m talking about what matters – loving your wife, looking after your elderly neighbor, spending time with your children who are here today and gone tomorrow. I’m talking about unimportant things like doing the dishes, telling your wife you love her, taking out the garbage, cleaning up the house, helping her make dinner. What is the spotlight for except to inspire the best of us to do the smaller things that are the most important, that keep our families alive, that in turn keep our communities alive, that in turn keep our society alive?

I am probably being harsh on intellectuals (meaning I am being really harsh on myself). Maybe I’m the only self-centered intellectual around. But hey, if we love thinking so much and reading about stuff, how about we think about this: stop thinking and start doing. After you’re done doing something, you’ll suddenly have more to think about than you ever dreamed. I accidentally did something once, and can say it was wonderful from personal experience. 🙂

It’s a boy!!

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Jacob

My wife and I were visiting my parents, but guess what happened? She went into labor and we had a baby boy! Our doctors back home were less than thrilled with us traveling with her due date so close, but oh well, it worked out really well in the end. All of our family (both Melissa’s and mine) both lived in the area and they all stopped by for a visit! It was really wonderful.

His name is Jacob Alden Dorsey. Born on March 30th at 6:00am. 7lbs. 13oz. and 20.1″ long!

To all my readers: I’m so sorry for not approving comments or responding or even posting! Things have been pretty crazy! I promise to post more good stuff in the near future!