Saturday, August 30, 2008

Purpose Draws the Bounds

Porn, by one definition is broken art. It is broken because it has failed to stay within the boundaries of purpose.

Does this description surprise you?

Think about the differences between what we might call a pornographic image and a nude statue in an art gallery. The above statement successfully differentiates between the two if we understand "the boundaries of purpose".

Is sex's purpose merely for pleasure? If so, then why should we prohibit or even be offended at bestiality or consensual acts of pedophilia and orgies?

Or is sex really an expression to be shared only within a lifelong committed relationship? Our culture may try to reject this, but I see evidence that it can't escape the specter of marriage.

For instance, have you ever noticed that advertisements for porn cast it as "dirty" fun? If there is nothing on the human consciousness written that draws a line, then why not advertise it as "getting up and clean" instead of "down and dirty"?

I am convinced that our culture would rather live life without purpose, a life of meaningless pleasure, rather than a life of purposeful self-control.

I do not exclude myself in this lament. My nature is like anyone else's, however I am not afraid to stare truth in the face.

Are you?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Fallen Fallacy

If you discovered that I was a mean, sadistic person, or that I was just plain stupid, would you conclude that my father must not exist?

Of course, not. So why do so many nonreligious people do this?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are our lives predetermined?

People tend to take sides when confronted with this question. Some believe that everything is predetermined. They assume this means that we have no free will as a result.

Others believe that we have total free will and deny determinism as a result.

I believe that both are true and that many people choose sides because it is so difficult to understand how the two can co-exist. It may be difficult to understand, but is it also difficult to imagine?

I believe in God. I believe that He knew every choice that I'd make before I ever made them. I believe that He preplanned my life in advance, knowing those choices.

He predestined (determinism) me to be a musician, YET I chose music as well.

He knew the choices that you would make to get to this point and He knows the choices that you will make. You can't surprise Him. He has planned your life according to the choices that you will make. Whether we choose wisely or foolishly, His plan will unfold.

It may be difficult to understand, but not to imagine....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Echo Chamber of Music

Music is the one and only thing that I could actually be called an "expert" on. I truly believe that the more that we learn about anything, whether it be music, a sport, a craft a hobby, a skill, history, science, the more we will see that all disciplines are an "echo chamber", reverberating the deeper truths of life on a smaller scale.

I believe this because I see it in music. Here is my latest observation.

Classically trained musicians tend to learn music by reading musical scores. Scores spell out every single detail of the song to be performed to the musician.

Although scores can be used for modern music, if they are followed strictly they often produce music that comes out as stiff and methodical.

The average classically trained musician that I have met is very analytical and intelligent, but can be very stiff in their systematic approach to life, not just music. This type of musician finds security in structure.

OTOH, a contemporary minded musician will tend to play music either by using simple chord charts, or if they can, even by ear.

A chord chart (pictured in the graphic) gives the musician some information but unlike the score, it is not comprehensive. The chord chart gives enough of the essentials of the song to communicate its essence, but it doesn't give so much as to detract from the musician's freedom to bring their own creativity to the music.

For example, the first chord of a chord chart may simply read "C minor". However the musician is not told where in their instrument's range to play that C minor or which C minor to play (which inversion or chord voicing for those of you who are musicians).

The chord chart doesn't provide any rhythm either, but I need to keep my analogy simple to illustrate the point.

The contemporary approach leaves enough ambiguity to the musician to allow them to choose. This ambiguity allows the musician to be creative. If the musician has the creativity and knowledge, when he/she sees that C minor chord, they will know that they can try three chord inversions, and multitudes of chord voicings in several octave ranges on their instrument (choices).

Faith is God's litmus test of our desire...

The classical approach limits the creativity to the composer. But the contemporary approach allows the performer to be creative. It allows them to choose.

Now let me frame it another way because I don't like to put classical up against contemporary and sound like I'm making a judgment for one and against the other. To the contrary, I don't necessarily believe that newer is inherently better.

I'm really talking about the differences between a propositional (classical musician) vs an existential/experiential (contemporary musician) approach to life.

A propositional approach is a traditionalist's mindset, which draws its security in structure and predictability. The downside to the systematic approach is that this security leaves no room for the questioning process (the essence of creativity). This prevents critical thinking from taking place.

The existential/experiential approach is not without its flaws either, but it is strong where the propositional approach is weak. The ambiguity of its looser structures encourage the questioning process that cultivates creativity and critical thinking. Its pitfalls emerge if it goes too far as the pendulum swings and tries to reject against anything that even looks like structure.

Creativity itself is often mistook to simply mean "making things up". However, you'll never learn to be creative with such a definition. You'll simply learn anarchy. True creativity is hinged to its art. As Clint Eastwood once said, "A man's got to know his limitations." Creativity is tied to purpose. This truth is reverberated in the echo chamber that I presented in a previous blog that I wrote entitled, "What is Freedom?".

True creativity is the convergence of the propositional with the experiential. Life itself is only rightly lived when we see it as a symbiotic relationship between the classical and the contemporary.

True Christianity is holistic. It balances the propositional with the experiential. This is summed up in John 1:14 which says that the Word (proposition) of God became flesh and lived (experiential) among us.

Are you a person who tries to make everything up and live your own life with no set boundaries? If so, you need purpose before you can be whole.

Are you a person who tries to know everything and uses traditionalism or propositions for a security blanket? If so, you need to listen to God asking the questions through the mysteries that stare you in the face.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where are you?

One of the strongest empirical arguments for believing in a Divine creator is what is called the teleological argument. The teleological argument can be summarized as stating that there is so much information and order in the world that there must have been a Divine mind who created it all.

The teleogolical argument is an argument about WHERE we live. I've noticed that I've never heard a philosophical argument for theism rooted in an argument that starts from WHAT happens to us. Although there are people (including myself many times) who certainly see God's hand in events that happen in their lives, much of what happens to all of us seems to be more random and chaotic. This happens so much that I have to conclude that WHAT happens to us seems to scream randomness even though WHERE we live screams Design.

This blog is about questions. It emphasizes asking the right questions over getting the right answers. Its not that we can accept the wrong answers, its just that if we focus on the right questions, the right answers will come, IF we clear ourselves of biases (a big IF).

As I have stated in previous blogs, I believe that God is hiding, but not so much that He doesn't want to be found. I believe He throws mystery in our faces to force us to think. I believe He asks us questions (the essence of faith) with life itself to lead us to Him.

If I am correct, than I ask the following question. What is the difference between a question and chaos? Both can puzzle the observer as he/she struggles to make sense of things, however the difference is order. Allow me to illustrate:

If I were to randomly type a series of letters, you might not think of it as a question, or a riddle to be solved:


But an ordered sequence of letters CAN form a question, signaling to the reader that it is something we are supposed to think about and resolve:

Where are you?

Even when scrambled, the question contains some order:

ehWre r?ae ouy

I'm not sure why, and this is where this blog exemplifies my thinking out loud, but life seems to scream "WHERE ARE YOU?" more than "What is happening to you?"

In the Genesis story, after Adam and Eve sinned, God comes to the garden for their daily walk. With Adam hiding, THE question that God asks him, and is asking you and I is "WHERE are you?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Burden of Proof

If you worked for a demolition crew and had doubt as to whether or not anyone was in the building that you were about to demolish, would you proceed anyway?

In response to Obama's statement about abortion being above his pay-grade at the recent Rick Warren forum, I have heard his defenders make statements like, "Only pro-lifers can be certain as to when life begins" or "only God knows when life begins."

All of these attempted defenses are admissions that the pro-abortionists have DOUBT as to when life begins.

The burden of proof lies with them. If they can't prove 100% that life does NOT begin with conception, then why would they want to risk the possibility that they are supporting the taking of innocent life?

This blog is about such doubts. Doubt can be embraced in that they force us to ask questions. But the pro abortionists aren't asking the right questions. They give up with the questioning process as they throw up their hands and say "no one can know for sure" instead of asking what should we do if we can't KNOW for sure? So they demolish...

Of course we should err on the side of caution, just as we would if we were standing on a firing range but had reason to doubt as to whether or not anyone was standing within range.

This blog is also about being objective, except I often cast objectivity in terms of having a pure heart. Abortion is a heart issue. People are afraid to ask the right questions because they are afraid of the possibility of inconvenient answers....

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Blessing of Doubt

Imagine that a very handsome, powerful, rich and well-known king seeks to find a true love life-time romance.

Love is volitional and requires the will.

So how does the king determine whether the lucky lady that he might set his heart upon sincerely loves him for who he is or just accepts his love because of all that he has to offer? Or perhaps she would only love him out of fear that he might punish her if she resisted? Isn't he too powerful to resist?

How does he weed out the true love from the gold-diggers?

He could hide his identity, not making himself as clearly known.

If you were God, and wanted the true love of your creation, would you not hide yourself in such a way as to test whether or not your creation had the WILL to love you?

When it really comes down to it, isn't faith the outward expression of our deepest heart's desires? After all, who has faith that they will get cancer or will get run over by a Mac truck?

If love is volitional and God is all powerful, then isn't faith the only gift that can test whether or not we truly have the will to love him for who He is as?

Does He not hide so as to win our love by volition and not out of fear or bribery?