There comes a point during any good tough hike when the rigor and the pain flip you into a different mental mode. The aching muscles and dwindling mental energy narrows your focus: keep moving. One foot in front of the other. Get to the end. This is actually a good picture of how we often tend to function in our daily lives. We are working for something. Some ultimate end. Some point of satisfaction. Something that will make it all worth the struggle. Underneath the repetitious wheel of daily life we have a bedrock purpose that keeps things turning. Sometimes we may even forget about its existence. But that doesn’t diminish its ever present influence throughout our days and minutes and weeks and months. On this point both Nietzsche and Darwin were right – life is a continual struggle. We are always reaching forward.
There is perhaps no greater value in our society today than the idea of complete personal freedom. We are a generation that looks at the past centuries of cultures and societies and we are pained at the injustice and oppression that seems to fill every chapter of history. It seems that no matter how much the people of the past have sought to come up with comprehensive explanations on how society should see life, they have inevitably led to the ill-treatment and abuse of someone else in the world.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened. But somewhere in these last few years, there grew within me this unshakable awareness that life is very fragile. This awareness came quite unexpectedly. Almost like someone pulled back the curtain in the middle of act three, throwing off both the audience and the actors on stage. It shook up my young and untested sense of the world. It melted that notion that life will always continue to flow as it always had.
The other day, as I was rocking my daughter to sleep and reflecting on how much I love her, I stumbled upon a striking realization. There was a phase in my parenting life, perhaps a year ago, when I really sought to hurry through the whole toddler bedtime routine. Every evening was a race with the clock to get her down nice and early and enjoy the freedom of spending time with my wife without constant interruption. But lately, things have changed. I have really started to enjoy those twilight bedtime minutes.
We are always inevitably building our worldview, and we are always inevitably disagreeing with others around us doing the same thing, though in ways that are different than ours. In a previous post it was noted that it is very important that we learn to disagree correctly. The prevailing tendency in our culture today seems to be to dismiss, to cut ourselves off, to pronounce the others as unreasonable radicals who are not even worthy of our consideration. And yet in this we are perhaps showing, more than anything else, our own radical pride and unwillingness to think and be challenged.
Continue reading “An Enriching Disagreement”
There is nothing that is more powerful or fulfilling to the human heart than to be gripped by love. Nothing else fills us with the satisfaction and meaning that we get when we are tied in our heart to others and feel the irresistible drive to seek their joy and wellbeing. We can do a great many things in life. In the end however, if we are simply left alone with our pile of toys and trophies, we find that they really mean nothing on their own. Unless we have someone with whom we can share the joy, unless we have those who give us reason to be better and stronger people, the sense of fulfillment dissolves helplessly in our hands.
Have you ever listened to someone explain something they believe and think to yourself, “Man, that person is just nuts.” You don’t have to go far to run into some sort of division or hostility between people and their beliefs these days. Today, we live in a time in which people seem to be more than ever committed to their belief systems, thus being more than ever diametrically opposed to those who disagree. As secularism spreads through Europe and America, it is followed closely with a wave of renewed religious faith and a return to ancient belief systems.
In a previous post the following question was raised up: “What is the path to true faith?” The basic point made there was that if there really is a God, logical arguments and “proofs” will never suffice to lead us to real faith in him. Ultimately, if there really is a God, the only way you will be truly convinced of his existence is if you meet him. Just as with any relationships, we must taste of his personal reality in order to live in a deep conviction that he is real and that he loves us.
It is quite a complex thing to be a human. We are, in many ways a walking paradox. On the one hand we are small and limited to physical existence. We are bound by space and time. We can only do one thing at a time and be in one place at a time. You cannot be both in the garden and in the library. You are either here or there. The alarm rings. You either get up or you don’t; get paid or don’t get paid. This sense of limitation is in many ways what it means to be human. Even when you live in a great city, you have your routine, your particular coffee shops, park benches and people. This embrace of our daily physical limitedness is perhaps most powerfully summarized in all those special things we call “home”.
The idea of the resurrection of has been criticized and mocked from the very earliest days of christianity. Jesus debated with the Sadducees – a group of Jewish scholars who generally dismissed the possibly of the miraculous or supernatural. When Paul spoke with the Greeks in Athens, they listened to his argument, up until he got to the fact that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Then they just mocked and dismissed him.