Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boldly seek, Boldly find

Boldness of thinking is tied to critical thinking. This is why men tend to be more analytical.

I know that I speak with the bias of a man. If you are a female reader, please don't let your bias keep you from seeing things are they are. I promise to try and do the same, starting by exposing the weaknesses of the analytical mind.

Oscar Wilde wrote that a cynic understands the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Analytical people are often cynics. In a purely analytical world, we have the world of Star Trek's Spock, a cold world where things are understood, but not enjoyed. Everything is in a box, but nothing is in our hearts.

The analytical mind can understand, discover and build things. But it takes the visceral/experiential mind (i.e. the heart) to enjoy them.

The heart is our safe place. It is the place we can call home. But don't get too comfortable with that snake in the bed, or those termites eating at your home's foundation. The rhythm of that dripping faucet isn't meant to provide the same comfort as the rhythm of a mother's heart. A person who is lead by their emotions and throws out their mind is blind. Having no discernment and lacking the boldness to ask questions, they have no answers and inevitably fall into a ditch.

There is value in the yin and the yang, the analytical and the visceral, the male and the female.

It is with my mind that I can ask questions and it is with my heart that I can receive their answers no matter what they may be.

Prepare your mind by boldly asking and prepare your heart by boldly receiving.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Silence of God

Let's face it, if God exists, He is silent.

What makes us question better than a mystery?

And what brings an answer better than a question?

And what allows us to think about those answers better than silence?

God's silence asks us to question, telling us a mystery and whispers the questions that are more important than the answers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bold Thinking

Truth requires bold thinking.

How many times have you, or someone you have observed, failed to learn a software program (or computers in general) because it appeared to be too complex? Does it not take a boldness of thinking to ignore such perceptions and to trod on?

As a musician, if I tell someone that a chord is a G7#5b9, the name itself can intimidate many musicians. I've met musicians and songwriters who claim to want to get better at their crafts, but as soon as they hear concepts expressed that sound complex, their tendency is to ignore or downplay them.

But isn't anything that is difficult or complex, merely a concatenation of a bunch of simpler things? When you break down computer codes to their simplest forms, they are merely 1's and 0's.

I'm not in love with the imagery of this aphorism, but it has been said that the way a snake swallows a pig is one inch at a time. I've found that nothing is so complex that it can't be broken down into simpler elements. It takes boldness to do the breakdowns. It takes questioning to make the complex understandable.

Complexity is an illusion. The illusion is shattered by breaking things down. The questioning process breaks the complex down into the "bite sized chunks" we need. Have the boldness to question and a bias towards truth and nothing less. Be willing to surrender all that you believe if the process threatens it. Have the boldness to be willing to surrender it all.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Coexist. An Imposed Delusion

I see cars with the above bumper sticker all the time. I believe in peaceful coexistence and totally agree with the idea that religions should not let disagreements turn into violence. While the thoughts behind the bumper sticker are well-intentioned, I think some of them are also shallow and disrespectful of the distinct qualities of religion.

First of all, it is as if the person with the bumper sticker thinks that all they have to do is tell religious people to coexist and wha-la, peace will magically happen. And no wonder they believe this. Most people seem to believe that religion is nothing more than a self-imposed delusion meant to help people get through life, feel better about themselves and provide guidance. They see religion as something that serves the religious.

But what the bumper sticker misses is that many religious adherents actually believe their faith conforms to reality. We actually believe that it is TRUE. Imagine that!

There is a funny thing about truth. You can't pick and choose it. Have you ever noticed how the world is probably nothing like you would have designed it? In my foolish logical mind, if I could have designed the world, it would be so utilitarian as to have nothing but 90 degree angles, human beings would have wheels instead of being legs to walk, and the cosmos would not exist in its vast emptiness. The Earth would be flat but never ending and there would be no other planets or worlds beyond it. People wouldn't differ in heights, abilities, or privileges of any kind. I don't think I would have had the creativity or the wisdom to have created beauty, not seeing any practical value in such a thing....

Doesn't this alien world we live in scream "You don't get to choose truth"? Our very genetics reverberate this sentiment.

Then why do we think that when it comes to religion, things are different?

The reason that I'm a Christian is because I have found no better explanation of its stories than the one that says, "they must be true". Believe me, I've tried thinking that it was made up by the authors of the Bible, or by the church, or that Jesus was merely a man who has been mythologized over time, etc.... Every alternative that I've considered took MORE faith than simply believing as a Christian.

I believe Christianity is true, NOT simply MY truth. For instance, when Christianity says that humanity has a fallen nature, I believe that applies to everyone, even non-christians!

The fall of man (and creation itself) might not be absolutely proven, but it still can be tested. I've found no test that disqualifies it but no smoking gun to absolutely prove it 100% without a doubt either. The greatest proof I've found of this and other Christian truths is simply that by living my life as if these claims are true, I have found the best way to live. One popular Christian teacher (Steve Brown of says that Christians are beggars who having found bread, are simply pointing the way for others to do the same.

Good religious people can disagree and argue their points. Not only would I say that the debate needs to continue, but we don't do enough debate. Critical thinking should prevail. We don't talk enough about religion, treating it as a taboo subject. But how can a system of belief that addresses the most fundamental questions of life, such as what is its very purpose and what happens after death, be ignored? Isn't that the height of insanity?

As a Christian, I reject reincarnation. I can't prove that this is the only time we go around any more than the Hindu or Buddhist can prove reincarnation. But I can demonstrate how the Christian belief in only one life on earth causes one's life to be better for it.

I sense that "coexist" means "live and let live" by not even debating or discussing our differences. I see it as affirming relativism when it comes to matters of faith. I have to reject such an affirmation. And anyone proponent who expresses disagreement with me, is certainly no relativist. How can someone who believes all truth is relative and one's perception is truth argue with someone else's perception?

I believe in the dialectics of Hegel. It says that truth is to be found by forming a thesis, an antithesis and a synthesis. In other words, you start with a belief, you test that belief against its opposite and you let that testing process flesh out what is and isn't true until you find the truth.

If your faith is true, it can not be threatened by debate. If it is false, why would you want to nurture and protect it from debate?

Finally, I want to say that the best thing that a "coexist" proponent can do to encourage peace among religious people is to encourage Christians to follow Christ. By truly following Christ, there is no room for imposing my faith through coercion or violence. The same is true of many other religions. Unfortunately, I can't say this is true of every religion....