Thursday, December 29, 2011

God's audition

Questions - its all what you do with them . . .

Everyone has questions about life, love, spirit - things that go beyond the grave.  It is what we do with them that matters.

Now you can take your questions as starting points - exciting incentives to chase down the answers that these questions bring.  Life becomes more adventuresome when you write down your questions, narrow them down to the top three and start pursuing them through books from both sides of the spectrum or conversations with people smarter than you.  Realize that this will take you years - buy a notebook, pursue with zest and always be open to learning.

Sadly, more often we treat our questions as speed bumps - like judges in a cheap talent show we poke our questions at the things we encounter in order to stay put and not be stretched.  In our usual discussion about faith and reason, both sides of the issue are guilty of this. 

"Yeah, but how do you actually think that God made the universe in six days?" 
"But if creatures evolved, how come the Bible doesn't talk about it?"

We use our questions as weapons - lobbing them to the other 'side' so that we don't have to look at the things that we have locked down and taken as gospel.  Atheists and Fundies are so guilty of this it is shameful.

We have to remember that questions are the soil in which we sow our understanding, not the stage upon which God auditions for our devotion.  You actually inhibit the realization of your answers when you take the seat of the critic when it comes to God.  Augustine asked us to believe in order to know and not the other way around. 

Now of course this doesn't mean put yourself at the feet of people, professors or priests - they are all just as fallible and fallen as are PhD's and experts of the sciences.  One believes in the God who is bigger than our ideas of Him so that our ideas can arrive at conclusions that are higher still. 

So what are your questions?  Better yet, what are your strategies for reaching their answers?  They can be found.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wishful thinking . . .

This time of year we hear a lot about wishes for the coming year and within thirty days it just turns into wishful thinking.  So much of life comes down to the tension between what we wish to be and what is just wish fulfillment.

As a Christian I am familiar with this territory.  My skeptic friends usually pose this question: "how do you know that your faith isn't just wishful thinking?"

But when it really boils down, everything is wishful thinking.  I mean if you are an atheist, the idea that there is no God is the best way that you can reconcile that there is evil in the world or there are pedophile priests or the fact that you didn't get what you prayed for.  It actually unifies your thoughts about the world if there were no God.  So in a strange way, the atheist too engages in wishful thinking.

The believer
The atheist
The agnostic
The transcendentalist
The materialist

The list could be as long as my arm - we all find ways to justify our particular view of the world.  But note that it is the view that comes first and the justification second.  We want a worldview that fits what we see - and that is the wish fulfillment we engage in (and not the other way around).

And perhaps the most interesting take on this is that, in the end, one of these views is correct . . .

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in the heart

Humans are fickle . . .

It is funny when you think about how fickle we are.  We just spent the last few weeks building up to a day in which we exchange presents and our feelings of love with friends and family.  The Christmas music we listened to spoke about that warm feeling we get when we draw near to the ones we love.  We got festive with lights and TV specials and making cookies - all designed to get in the Christmas spirit (as varied as that may be).

So much energy devoted to such an intangible.  We love the 'feeling' of Christmas.  I heard many people saying that it didn't 'feel' like Christmas because of the weather.  Funny how important a feeling is.

And that is precisely where we have it mixed up.  For the most important things in life we are content to pursue a feeling.  Most would agree that life is not so much about the nice cars or the big houses or fat bank accounts as much as it is about having someone who loves you.  In essence, the point of life comes down to something you feel.  We are creatures of experience - we want to feel more than we want to have or to know.

But then we talk about God and it needs to be something external - beyond our experience.  We need evidence.  Interesting how the weight of experience is not as important when we consider a life of putting God first in our lives.  Wouldn't that be an area that experience would make all the difference?  As if because you felt a connection to God this was not as good as seeing demonstrable proof of it.  We have it backwards, we should pursue the experience of a dialogue with God BEFORE we need the proof of His presence.  Our belief can be fueled by the sense of that experience - not diminished by the proof of its existence. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Do they know relief efforts?

Talk about deflating . . .

Almost 30 years after Band Aid released "Do They Know It's Christmas?" a band from Africa is releasing a single "Yes We Do" and it packs a little punch.

Apparently some unemployed musicians from South Africa are a little miffed about the patronizing efforts of the West.  According to a wire report from, singer Boontown Gundane was oozing with contempt for the Band Aid effort all those years ago.  According to an interview on, Gundane doesn't quite understand the point of the song:

“Just because we don’t have Boney M or Christmas advertising in September doesn’t mean we are oblivious to it,”

According to the website Gundane then went on to compare Africans to the Irish . . .

“They made it through disasters like the potato blight and the invention of the Protestant church without forgetting Christmas – why did they think we would forget it?”

The Band, calling themselves Plaster Cast are ironically using the proceeds from the song to donate to literacy, discipline and contraception in schools across Britain.  Gundane had gone so far as to say that the success of the song will turn him into an expert on British politics and economics the same way that it has with the artists for disaster relief.  Gundane went on to say 'If I'm not sharing a platform with the Queen and David Cameron by this time next year, or headlining at Glastonbury, then I will have done something very wrong' according to

Reading this, I laughed inside but I also felt annoyed.  What is this guy talking about?  He is from South Africa . . . the song was meant for Ethiopia -  the two are on the same continent but worlds apart.  Perhaps it might be insulting for someone in South Africa to be asked "Do They Know It's Christmas" but the question wasn't about you.  It was about the Western idea of 'Christmas' as a commercial farce that trumpets the values of warm homes, rich dinners and expensive gifts.  Do the people of Ethiopia even know about this idea when they are experiencing a [a then] decade-long drought and famine?

And why couldn't we give our food, warmth and presents to someone that really needed it?

Sorry, I get the irony of Plaster Cast but we need to be careful of becoming snobs of relief efforts that have nothing to do with you or your people.

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