Topics: General

General Posts regarding anything philosophical, spiritual, doctinaral, theological, or otherwise.

Devotional Classics Review in 12 days

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

I just finished writing up a 12-day devotional series on some classic Christian devotional books.  Each day features a classic author and one of their books, its cultural context, the author’s main points, and how it applies to today’s Christian and their daily life.  Hope you find this enjoyable and useful!  If you’d like, I also left the comments section open as well, so please leave some thoughts if you’d like.

http://truthandpurpose.com/devoclassics/

 

How God Sees Us: A Critique of “Original Sin”

Monday, June 18th, 2012

I used to struggle greatly with core issue in my walk with God: how did God think about me?  When I came to mind, what were his impressions and thoughts of me?  When the Bible says that he “loves” me, is it the love of someone obligated by a contract, or was it one that held endless emotion, filled with delight and joy in his unique creation?  I couldn’t see it being the latter because I knew myself too well – I was a person like any other – one whose life was filled with mistakes and failures.  How could God delight in me?

So one day I asked him this, and he answered me in a way I couldn’t disagree with; a way that speaks to your heart like only he knows how to do.  It was through this interaction, and many thousands later, that I came to see how God sees me, and by extension, his people, and by extension, all people.  We are all his unique creations, each one of us designed without a duplicate.  When we die, this world will never see one like us again.  To the people who belong to him, he delights in them in a way that transcends my understanding of joy. To the people who do not know him, or who want nothing to do with him, he longs to know them like a lost child – desperate to hold and comfort and love them, a unique and beautiful creation, but has decided to let them make their choice.

This picture of how God sees me and other people, however, did not match up with popular Christian theology.  There’s a lot of talk about the “depravity” of humanity, and how utterly evil and completely corrupt we are.  It doesn’t help that this mindset has a few verses (and I mean few) that appear to support this, such as Jeremiah 17:9 in the King James Version: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  If our own hearts are by design the worst thing in the universe, there isn’t any way God could want anything to do with us, much less think about us in any positive way, least of all with joy.

This picture of humanity was developed and codified by Christians about  1500 years ago, and came to be known as “original sin.”  Because of Adam’s original sin, we have all been born completely evil in every thought and deed.  More extreme but predictable versions emerged later that said we are completely unable to choose God at all, but God, like a great puppet master, turns on a “God” switch to make some of us evil creatures into good ones.

The motivation behind this picture was straight forward.  Clearly everyone makes mistakes and sins, and there had to be a really good reason why God chose to become human and be tortured to death to reunite us with himself.  So it was decided that to make sure what God did (something that drastic) was justified, all humanity had to be seen not only in a state of being incapable of a perfect sinless life,  but incapable of anything good at all.  If anyone was capable of anything really good, God’s death wasn’t really necessary.

In my bible reading and study, especially in the Old Testament, I have found this picture of humanity to be untrue of how God really thinks of people in regards to sinful and right living, and it certainly is not a picture of how God thinks about me in the real relationship I have with him right now.  So what I wanted to do is to take a serious look at the biblical texts that write extensively about this issue.  I believe it is time to seriously question this doctrine and see if there is a better explanation for why every person struggles with sin and brokenness, and why it was completely necessary for Jesus to die for us so that we might be reunited with God.  What follows is a serious study of key Old and New Testament passages including original language research.  Enjoy!

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Design & Theology

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I did an internet search recently to understand what designers like me (web, graphic, or industrial designers specifically) think about their activity in terms of how it relates to God.  The first post I came across after doing a Google search was a blog with a category page with a confusing title of “The Design of Theology.”  All its posts were instead about the theology of design.  The first one I read was about how the main purpose of graphic / communication design was to share or promote the glory of God.  This seemed to me a good idea, but a little odd because a professional graphic designer often does things other than that, so it would be hard to argue that this is the primary purpose of Graphic design in the sphere of human society, and it would lead a professional to feel a little guilty that he or she wasn’t doing something “churchy.”  This is unhelpful theology to me or anyone not working as a graphic designer for a church.

The second post I read was much worse.

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Adam Young…

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Adam Young from Owl City has an incredible ability to capture the magic of romance and relationships in writing…check it out!  He is able to resurrect a long lost picture of true love – one filled with the profound essences of magic, spirituality, and selflessness.  I’ve been listening to his song “Fireflies” a lot lately… a deeply spiritual and moving song for me for reasons I can’t yet explain.

http://owlcityblog.com/2010/09/06/you-had-me-at-hello/

Listen to the song “Fireflies” here (Thanks Grooveshark!):

Imagination

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

My wife and her best friend have been reading the books that the movie Twilight was based on, and it made me think about the kind of entertainment we are drawn to.  My wife and I are both passionate about different things – she about passionate romance and meaningful relationships, and me about bravery and fighting for good causes.  I find it interesting that we are both drawn to certain media (video games, movies, books) that feature these themes.

While my wife reads Twilight, I am currently playing Fallout 3, a video game that is full of fighting and moral choices, a dreamworld for me.  I am also reading Cherryh (science fiction) which involves a war between humans and aliens on other planets – way cool.

I thought a long time ago about being drawn to these things.  Why is this?  In my wife’s case- how is it possible anymore to have a passionate romance with very young children who constantly need your attention?  In my case, how can I get out a gun and go fight the bad guys and be brave when I have a family and a wife that takes top priority?

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Finding Spiritual Truth (A response to Craig at MOF)

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I messed up my comment badly at a post over at Mind On Fire – so I had to repost here so it will be legible.  Go over there and check out what the post is about and the discussion there first to get some context…

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Dangers to finding truth

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

I was just doing my daily reading this morning, and I came across some interesting quotes that really got me thinking:

“Get truth and don’t ever sell it.” ~ Proverbs 23:23

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: …the feeling that everyone is wrong except for those in your own little group…” ~ Galatians 5:19-21.

These are two passages point out dangers that the person who is searching for truth will inevitably encounter. Since truth is what this website is all about, and the people who come here to read stuff care about it, I thought it would be a good idea to write about these dangers.

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TruthandPurpose is 2 years old!

Friday, August 1st, 2008

I just realized the other day that this website has hit its 2 year mark!  It dawned on me that I’ve been writing on this site longer than my son’s been alive (he is now 16 months old!)

I haven’t been doing any posting for a long time, but I have a lot to write about.  I’m in the raw learning stage right now and have not had time to digest and distill it into something engaging enough to write about.

I have actually toyed around with ditching the site altogether because I have become so busy.  But I think that would hurt me.  I really enjoy the interaction with others on philosophical or biblical topics.  My immediate family and circle of friends do not really enjoy this kind of discussion on a regular basis, so I am left to discuss and think on my own and with others like me thoughout the blogsphere.

So, I’ve renewed my hosting and kept my domain name for another year.  Hopefully I will have more time to write again soon…

Transposition

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Martin’s comment got me thinking… Do animals “get emotional?” I have argued with others that animals operate under a system of cause and effect – try something: if it works, do it again, otherwise, operate under instinct. There is no getting depressed about the meaning of life, to wonder about our purpose and be eager to fulfill it, to wonder about our origins, etc. There is simply survival, and stoically going about a life ensuring that it continues. I am not entirely sure this is true, and would like to see more research done on the subject. However, even Harris seems unsure of what goes on in the mind of animals in the area of conscious, and he’s close to a Ph.D in neurobiology, so I’ll take his word for it.

However, something tells me that the experience of emotions is one area that separates us from the animal kingdom. We are not merely acting for survival only, although life can be reduced to that way of living in some cases. I can understand emotions as a tool to spur one to action in order to survive, but I believe it is not their only purpose. I cannot understand why a person can cry over a beautiful painting or being moved by music with only a natural understanding of them.

Here’s my guess – That animalistic/naturalistic emotions are akin to an alphabet with only 4 letters. If we were to translate English into this limited language, we would have to re-use those letters a lot. Within our being, I believe there exists a higher, non-natural conscious which must express itself in its rich detail to our natural bodies via a more limited vocabulary – “feelings” – which manifest themselves physically as our adrenaline and endorphins acting. C.S. Lewis called this spiritual->natural translation “transposition.” Emotions serve many distinctly different purposes, but we see their differences in the richness of the higher, but cannot see such distinction in observing the lower. All we see there are endorphins and a release of adrenaline.

All this is to say that emotions, which can be used for survival in the natural world, have a far richer usage that we are all aware of, but make no sense from that perspective. We cannot interpret higher from the perspective of the lower. The richness of its nearly unlimited variety of experience originates in the higher language that far exceeds the utility of survival. It is one tiny part of something that exists outside of the natural universe: the enormously complex, beautiful, and mysterious entity called the “spiritual” being.

“Free will” and atheism…

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

One of the “unconvincing arguments” for God set out by the Minnesota Atheists has piqued my interest. It is argument # 26: Free will is proof that God exists. Whether or not its existing proves God or not is besides the point here. Here is the text quoted:

(26) Free Will – Some people argue that without a god there would be no free will, that we would live in a deterministic universe of cause and effect and that we would be mere “robots.”

Actually, there is far less free will than most people think there is. Our conditioning (our biological desire to survive and prosper, combined with our experiences) makes certain “choices” far more likely than others. How else can we explain our ability, in many cases, to predict human behavior?

Experiments have shown that our brain makes a “decision” to take action before we become conscious of it!

Some believe that the only free will we have is to exercise a conscious veto over actions suggested by our thoughts.

Most atheists have no problem admitting that free will may be an illusion.

This issue also brings up a conundrum: If a god who created us knows the future, how can we have free will?

In the end, if we are enjoying our lives, does it matter if free will is real or an illusion? Isn’t it only our ego – our healthy self-esteem that is beneficial for survival – that has been conditioned to believe that real free will is somehow better than imaginary free will?

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34 Unconvincing Proofs for God…

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

The folks at Minnesota Atheists have released a rebuttal to 34 typical arguments that Christians use to prove God exists from either a philosophical or scientific standpoint. P.Z. Myers posted the list and its detailed argument for each point in HTML form on his site. For those of you who enjoy hearing all sides of the debate on the existence of God, it’s worth checking out. Thank you to xJane over at MindOnFire for the link. This is one of the better pieces of work I’ve read that keeps the Christian-bashing to a minimum so that non-opinionated good logic and thinking are the main points, an aspect of logical debate that makes me smile no matter which side is presenting.

A lot of their criticisms of the Bible are very good, probably because they are drawing on the resources of Dan Barker, a vocal skeptic who is an intelligent ex-pastor and seems to know his stuff, a person whose resources the atheist community should draw heavily upon if they want to make better headway debating intellectual Christianity regarding Biblical criticism.

I was intrigued to see some new items I wasn’t used to reading, such as their approach on free will and morality. I was pleasantly surprised to see some humility in some points (such as they cannot prove atheism ontologically any better than Christians can to prove God.)

Now that the semester is over and my finals are almost finished, I can begin more critical writing again, and I would like to discuss my thoughts on some of their points. Also, I am currently working on a piece illustrating how God handle’s man’s free-will in practical examples of the current picture of the Church and in bible translations. Stay tuned! Sorry I can’t write more – My nights are filled with moonlighting web design and school paperwork.

Aftermath of anger

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

After reading a similar post by John over at mindonfire.com, I thought I would capture my thoughts here in a post based on my comments there.

It is amazing how anger can spur action and give us endless amounts of energy and creativity. My anger caused me to leave bad churches, reevaluate bad theology and religion, and rethink a large part of my beliefs about the spiritual life that I had just believed without thinking. It caused me to create a weblog and join a community of other folks like me who were also reeling from similar bad experiences – people who were also trying to figure out the spiritual life in the aftermath of their bad experiences.

However, as I mentioned in an earlier post on forgiveness, my anger has run its course. It has now been 3-4 years or so since my encounters with bad religion occurred. It has been one year since I started truthandpurpose.com. I have wrangled with those bad experiences and come out at peace. Even though I have not answered all the questions that come pounding at one’s door when life becomes painful, I have been able to answer enough of them sufficiently to be in a place of peace.

For me, something unique in my experience is happening. I have become pulled very strongly towards a greater cause that I don’t understand yet. It is a very strong feeling – one that is driving me even more strongly than my anger did (which I didn’t think possible): an unselfish desire to prepare my life for something very big – much bigger than myself. It was so profound a change in who I am and what fundamentally motivates me that it drove me to redesign my weblog from scratch – images and recoding templates, pack up my family and move to another state, and enroll in a masters degree program at a seminary there. It is the greater motivator.

In the aftermath of anger, there is something with more energy and creativity. Anger, like other things in life, was meant to lead us to a greater thing. It’s energy wanes – it was designed to have a greater thing take its place. It is not unlike how romantic love leads a person to embrace love in its fullest sense – unconditional true love.

So what replaces anger? What is greater? That’s what I want to explore here. Read the rest of this entry »

Site Update

Monday, July 9th, 2007

I just finished a site overhaul. Whew. It took me about 15 hours from the drawing to the final upload to the server. Let me know if anyone sees some strange browser problems. I haven’t actually checked Internet Explorer 6.0 yet, but it should work in Safari, Internet Explorer 7, and Firefox.

I added a couple of new things:

  1. An extra sidebar with more stuff on it.

  2. On the inner sidebar, I added a more detailed discussion viewer so we can see where the discussion is going on.

  3. I updated the comments section so that your name appears to the left of your comment body, sort of similar to discussion forums.

  4. I rotating header image. I keep using an image of monkshood – a purple flower that seems to best represent spirituality. I wanted to use green and purple to represent life and mystery/mystical/spiritual.

  5. The email subscription mechanism has now been updated.

  6. I made little calendar day cards to show the current date in a more interesting way.

  7. I added topic descriptions.  When you click on a topic, you will be taken to a page that lists all the posts in the topic, and will also see a short paragraph describing what that topic is all about.

Let me know what you think. Be honest!

Adding new weblog links

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Its been too long in coming, but I’ve finally had a spare moment now that I’ve officially moved to update the website a bit. I’ve added more categories to my past posts for better category browsing, and I’ve added two sites to the blogroll that I should have added months ago!

Hieing to Kolob

This is the infamous Bored in Vernal’s weblog about the spiritual life, religion, politics, and Mormonism. She’s a women with a great heart for people, and always has great thoughts to post about on her site.

The Naked Soul

Mark’s weblog about everyday living, relationships, and the spiritual life. His posts are inspiring and thought provoking at the same time. When I get a chance, I want to piggyback on his post about failure, and its importance in our lives.

It has been great to get to know you both! Thanks again so much for pouring out your thoughts and ideas into the void, and thank you for stopping by for a bit and chatting here too. I really appreciate having both of you around, both on this site and the many others you frequent and comment on.

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. 🙂

The “uncomfortable” spiritual life

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

In listening to Elise and her supernatural experiences that she has a hard time communicating, and reading about Miko’s brushes with supernatural, and remembering many friends of mine (Christian or atheist) talking to me quietly about similar experiences, I am once again brought to this topic: the uncomfortable existence of the supernatural world in our lives.

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 50 Sci/Fi Books Of All Time

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

I’ve been tagged for a Science fiction meme by John from MindOnFire! The following list is of the top 50 science fiction/fantasy books of all time. I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read, struck through the ones that I’ve read and hated, italicize ones I’ve started but never finished, and put a star next to the ones I loved.

  1. The Lord of the Rings*, J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Foundation Trilogy*, Isaac Asimov
  3. Dune*, Frank Herbert
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea*, Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson (halfway through)
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  13. The Caves of Steel*, Isaac Asimov
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender’s Game*, Orson Scott Card
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy*, Douglas Adams
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

The beginning

Monday, August 14th, 2006

Well, this is my first post, which has been a dream for me for about a year now and has finally come to fruition. I finally got a weblog site up, and have so much to talk about, and so little time to do it. I apologize for my “out-of-the-box” theme. It’s quite boring, and as a web designer I can do a lot better, but I have a desire to write so badly that even my own training and passion as a visual designer isn’t holding sway over me.

Something else is. Something greater than visual beauty and far beyond me.

Read the rest of this entry »