Our world screams, “Paradox!!!”

Just a couple interesting thoughts for you. Someone sent me the following quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of people that these liberties are a gift of God?”

Consider then, this man, who obviously had some affiliation with religion and God, proposing the “Wall of Separation”, aka separation of church and state. Why would a man who said the previous quote propose such a thing, unless he obviously had the safety of religion (as well as government) in mind? Now this is not a direction I originally pondered, but track with me on this. Some people propose that separation of church and state was not to protect government from religion, but religion from government. It is ironic to me that such a wall of separation would be so paradoxical, because in commanding that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” (First Amendment), Congress just does that. It respects the establishment of religion. In realizing that religion must be protected from government, our Forefathers forged within the bill of rights a wall that cannot be torn down. Religion in our country is free. You are free to believe what you like. And that is good. Free will is good, and freedom of choice is an inherent right that has been given to us. (Now what you do with that choice is another matter) So, I believe that the Founders  did include religion into the creation of our government. Because of their own personal religious beliefs and mindsets, and because they did not want government to tamper with faith, they created a wall to protect the freedom of belief, paradoxically by prohibiting government from making laws that respect religion (go figure). And in that act, they disprove that religion was not included in the creation of government. Purely by prohibiting overtly religious laws, one can argue that religion took a part in the creation of our government, even if only in a negation aspect.

Now, obviously, I don’t think that such a wall is impossible to bypass. Whether one chooses to acknowledge the fact or not, people carry their religion with them wherever they go. To say that the First Amendment nullifies religion within government is poppycock. But to say that the 1st Amendment nullifies government within religion is not. Government is not allowed to interfere with religion, but religion is allowed to interfere government. But then again, I define religion as a system of beliefs, not something that requires a holy book or a deity. Just something you believe that moves you to act a certain way. So principles like secularism or atheism I consider to be religion of sorts. And I consider such principles, as well as Christian ones, to influence politicians and politics. That’s just my two cents. Your thoughts?

Sources: Justin, Bill Van Workum, Wikipedia, and Cornell University

Call to Arms/Want to Help?

I’m currently engaged in debate with fitnessfortheoccasion right now, and one of our current topics is whether religion has any place in government. This blog is not so much to give my own opinion as it is to see what you guys have to say. Do you believe that separation of church and state is a good thing for our government? Do think that religion should be a part of all government action? Does your opinion fall somewhere in between those two extremes? If you’re in anyway interested in answering those questions, please do so, and also include why you believe what you do. That being said, I was going to say what I thought about the subject, but on further consideration I have changed my mind, because I don’t want my opinion to influence your answer. I will share my beliefs on the subject, but I guess it’ll have to wait till I get some comments, if I do get comments. I also wanted to ask another important question on the subject of religion in government. I made a remark about religion being rampant in our nation’s founding, and fitness disagreed with me. So what do you think? Did religion play a part in how our government was created? And if so, how?

I sincerely appreciate anything you guys have to offer on any of the topics mentioned above, and everyone is invited to respond. So please do. 

Sorry

It has recently been pointed out to me that I am not very good at argument. I come across as snide, smug, overzealous, and blinded by emotion. I resort to shouting and yelling when people disagree with me, and I am rarely if ever respectful of my opponent’s opinions. So, I’d like to take a moment to simply say sorry. If I have ever wronged you in passing conversation, organized debate, or heated argument, I apologize. This is obviously a huge problem of mine that I am going to have to work on. Please bear with me as it could take awhile. That being said, let me say once again, apologies.

Who’s Up for a Duel?

As I’m sure many of you already know, some of our blogs have recently been called into question by someone with very different opinions than our own. That person is by all means entitled to their own opinion, and I’m actually quite glad he came to our site to express said opinions. Some good questions have been asked, and I think that we should answer them. This situation reminds me of a book I just finished reading by G.K. Chesterton called The Ball and the Cross. Before I go any further, let me just say that G.K. is AMAZING! Holy cow that man can write! He is both poetic and symbolic, and at the same time as concrete as the firmness of the earth. I strongly suggest that you all start reading him if you’re looking for something to inspire and entertain.

That being said, let me get back to the point I was making. Our current situation reminds me of G.K.’s book because of the whole idea of fighting for what you believe in. The plot, in barbarically shortened synopsis, goes like this: There are two men, one named MacIan and the other called Turnbull. MacIan is a zealous Catholic while Turnbull is a devout atheist. While passing by a window of Turnbull’s editorial shop, MacIan notices an article Turnbull has written which denounces the Virgin Mary, among other things. Firmly enraged, MacIan breaks a window and proclaims his offense to Turnbull. Through various and sundry events MacIan challenges Turnbull to a duel, and Turnbull, who has been looking to offend someone his entire life, promptly accepts. The rest of the book chronicles the duel they try to have, which is constantly being broken up by the authorities, whom G.K. portrays as the world trying to interfere with men standing up for their convictions. It’s all wonderfully complex and surprising, but the point is, these two men have a difference of opinion, and they believe so strongly in their faiths that they are willing to fight and die for it. That is conviction.

The question is, are we that convicted? I’m not suggesting we go out and challenge people to actually fight to the death simply because they have a different opinion than our own (misleading title, I know, but I had to capture your interest somehow). However, what I am suggesting is that we have intellectual duels, a fight of the mind if you will. We, like Turnbull and MacIan, have the ability to fight for what we believe in. And as I believe in a world of absolute and objective truths,  I am convinced that we should fight for our beliefs, and what’s more, I believe we should win. Not for winning’s sake or merely because we’re right, but because we know the most important truth about life, and that truth is so precious that we should be tearing ourselves to pieces in desperation because we want everyone to have the truth that badly. That is why we need to duel, not for a victory of ourselves, but for the victory of Christ.

Oh, and just for the record, I don’t actually consider human lives as insignificant as eggs, I was just trying to make a point using a blunt metaphor.   

Are We There Yet?

So here I am, sitting at my computer, wondering what to type. This is actually the second time I’ve sat down at the computer to type this blog, because the first yielded nothing. Why? Because I’m having trouble being motivated. It’s the end of school, we have like six weeks left, and most of us already know where we’re going to college. So at this point school seems pointless. I know however, that it isn’t. Education is still important, no matter how close you are to completing it. If anything, it’s more important because you’re at the end. Finish the race that has been set before you, don’t give up right before you break the tape.

As I reflect on my current state, I am reminded of two passages of the Bible. The first I actually discovered this morning as I was doing a devotional on Proverbs 13. Specifically, Proverbs 13:4 spoke to me, and it goes something like this: “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” This verse is pretty easy to understand. Those who work hard get rewarded, while lazy people get nothing but problems. Simple right? Yet we forget this principle quite often. We forget the importance of hard work in our lives, and thus we also forget the rewards. Don’t.

The second verse that I though about comes from Colossians 3:23, which states, ” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” So often we forget why we exist. We forget why we live. We forget why we work. It’s all for the glory of God, and that’s why it’s so important that we continue to try so hard at whatever we do, even when we have the opportunity to slack. So press on. Not for you, but for our blessed Father in Heaven.

Source: God

Cheers!

            When I was watching Trent Reznor’s version of “Hurt”, I was struck with a terrible sadness. It was not a sadness induced by the images of doom, decay, and destruction in the video. It was not even the hopeless lyrics that got to me. It was a single sound, something so subtle and natural in the music world that most people probably didn’t even notice or care when they heard it. It was the sound of cheering. When Reznor finished his cacophonic dirge, the crowd watching his performance erupted in shouts and cheers. This wasn’t light clapping or scattered applause; this was the glory of the crowd at its fullest. Here’s Trent Reznor, singing about drug addiction, pain, and hopelessness, and the people just eat it up. They loved it! They worshipped him for it! And that is what strikes me as so sad…

            Did you ever wonder why they cheered? I wonder. I wonder if it is because they do not understand the message that Trent Reznor was preaching that day. Perhaps they cheered that day simply because they did not comprehend the agony and horror embedded in the song. Perhaps they cheered because they were lost in the sound and they just liked NIN profusely. If those people cheered for such reasons, woe unto them.

            But here is an even scarier thought. What if they did understand what
Trent was saying? What if they knew exactly what his song was promoting? What if they cheered because they liked his hopelessness? Now that is truly a terrifying thought, because despair is no reason to cheer at all. How empty a person must be, to cheer for lost hope and gloom! A cheering crowd at the end of Reznor’s song speaks volumes as to what our generation idolizes and prizes. And if our generation idealizes despair, how great is their need for Christ! Tis inspiration for evangelism, pure and simple.

  

On Arrogance and Monsters

“Writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind” – Joan Didion (emphasis added)

There is a supreme arrogance to be found in writing one’s opinion, which is why I find Ms. Didion’s quote so very fitting for this particular blog. I decided to write about two topics this week since I wanted to run in so many different directions, so without further adieu, let me begin…

First of all, let me start by saying that I hate arrogant people. Strike that. I loathe arrogant people. But the reason I can say such a thing is that I myself am quite arrogant. If I weren’t I would not be writing this blog, nor would I offer my opinion in order to change yours. That being said, I have trouble tolerating pride in anyone.  If “Envy is the ulcer of the soul” (Socrates) , then surely pride is the tumor of the mind. It rots away our personal dignity, to the point that when we ourselves have none left, we loose ourselves like dogs upon others and tear them down. We tear others down because the embittered soul cannot stand the thought of anyone having what they themselves do not, so they seek to rob others of their self-confidence, their happiness, their security. The arrogant are quick to find the faults of others but blind to their own follies and fallacies. They cannot see beyond their own reflection.  Maybe the description I’m giving doesn’t fit you, maybe it does, who knows? But what I do know is that I am stinkin tired of seeing people run around acting like they’re God come back to earth, whether it be because their athletic prowess or the intellectual capacity, etc. It’s tiresome, and it just makes me want to punch people in the face. Now, obviously that is not the answer. The answer lies in God, and Him alone. It is to God that I must constantly come to be humbled. It is before His holy throne that I must prostrate myself and say over and over again, “I am not God.” Because, in reality, only God has the right to pride, so in being arrogant we are making an implicit claim of being God. You may not think so, but as a friend of mine once told me, “God doesn’t give a crap about what you think.”

Now for part 2-

“How easy a man turns monster with a little bad weather” – Anonymous

During this past week, I have been reflecting a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and the more I think about it, the more I am struck by how many weaknesses I have. I am not a strong person. I am sensitive, gullible, and easily broken. But so are many people. Perhaps not those exact weaknesses, but many people have more holes in their armor than they would care to admit (and I’m not even talking about total depravity). The point that I am trying to make here is that we are weak because we are too easily broken. We place our trust and worth in things that do not matter. Let me provide an example. Say you are the most beautiful person on the face of the earth. You therefore place all your self-worth and confidence in your beauty. But then one day you break out in the worst case of acne imaginable, and your face becomes covered with nasty blemishes. Take away the beauty, and you have nothing. It is the same for any other instance. If you are smart, take away the understanding. If you are athletic, take away the skill. What are you left with? Nothing. And why? Because we place our faith in empty, meaningless things. That quality which you hold most dear will fade away, and once it does, you will be left with nothing. However, there is hope, but only if you find something greater and more worthy than yourself to put your trust in, namely God. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” God alone is the foundation for a life of worth. God alone is the one you should place your faith in, for He will never fade nor let you down in your time of need. God’s grace is so amazing that even our weaknesses become strengths in His hands, and thus are we redeemed from our pitiable states. Therefore, place your trust on the mighty Rock, the ever-gracious Redeemer, and not on yourself. For therein lies the secret to a resisting being broken down by the trivial and unimportant. If you managed to read this whole thing, hats off to you.

 Sources: Room 41, www.biblegateway.com, and my own personal brillaince (See? More arrogance)