Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remembering for the wrong reasons

The great thing about traditionalism is that it has a good memory. The bad thing about it is that it remembers the wrong things. It has forgotten why it should remember in the first place.

Why? Well that is the problem... It doesn't ask the question "why"?

It seems that many people throw out their brains for denial purposes. I think the dominant mindset says something like, "If I think, I'll find that my faith is not true and have to face the idea that it is just my crutch."

With that said, I think this is an ill-formed opinion. Reason necessitates its own limitations. It is reason that says that the earth doesn't revolve around me, i.e., their are truths that exist outside of my ability to know them. To believe in such things would therefore require faith. But such faith can be informed.

For instance, we believe that the universe is expanding not because we can directly see it expanding, but rather because we can see a red doppler shift in the light spectrum of the cosmos. And just because we can't even begin to imagine what it is expanding into, or what is beyond space, doesn't mean that we can't believe in the expansion.

"He alone stretches out the heavens..." - Job 9:8

Traditionalist Christians have (and still do among many Catholics) conducted their worship entirely in a dead Latin language that died with the Roman empire. Why? If they even ask this question, how can they come up with any other answer except, "because that's what we've ALWAYS done."

"An unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates

Question your traditions. If they have outlived their purposes, why not throw them out? This is not a repudiation of traditionalism. On the contrary, traditionalism tied to purpose, is to be lauded.

"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. " - George Santayana

Traditionalism tied to purpose says, "Remember, so we don't repeat the same mistakes our others before us have."

THAT is why we remember. THAT is the purpose of traditionalism.

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Torchdown Jesus

I've come to the realization over the last few years that I am more embarassed by some of my fellow Christians than I am of Christ. The "Touchdown Jesus" statue's recent demise is just another example.

I'm sure that the church that erected it had the intention of using it as a sign to point people to Christ. But this is the problem with many of my Christian brothers and sisters. They are trying to give the world simple answers to complex problems. Speaking in baby-talk to adults, they will sport bumperstickers that read, "Jesus Saves", while the non-christian is scratching their heads wondering what they need saved from. Another popular bumpersticker reads, "Jesus Is the Answer", while the non-believer might be asking, "What is the question?" "Lord save us from your followers" is a more aptly written bumpersticker.

Most non-christians who passed the giant Jesus statue on I-75 have deeper issues that keep them from coming to Christ. Those issues are much deeper than simply seeing a giant statue. They need to be engaged by Christ followers who demonstrate God's love through acts of kindness and whose lives well lived, demonstrate they have found the real answers to life's deepest questions. In many cases, non-believers don't even know the questions they should be asking. They need believers lives to be the questions they should be asking. They aren't ready for answers personified on the highway to questions they haven't yet asked.

To my Christian brothers and sisters who doubt me, I ask. Why has God hung this whole thing on the ambiguity of faith? He could have given a witness clearer and more explicit than a giant Jesus statue. Have you not noticed the paradox of the Gospel? Examples of these paradoxes include, "If you want to lead, you must serve" and "if you want to receive, give."

This pattern of paradox is reverberated by St. Francis of Assisi, "Go forth and preach the Gospel and if you must use words."

The depths of the truth that God has given us are too great to be expressed in a giant statue. Don't give the world answers. Give them questions. Make them think with an honest heart.

If you want to teach, first learn. If you want to point the way, first walk the way. If you want to make a difference, first be a difference. If you want to show people answers, be the questions. Is THIS not why God is pleased by faith instead of certainty?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Messages in the Experiential

Atheist's often embrace death as something to be accepted as natural and normal.

But what does the above picture say to you existentially? In other words, how does the image of death make you feel?

Not exactly feeling warm and fuzzy? Why is such a negative visceral reaction so natural and normal?

Contrasted with the end of life, what about the natural and normal responses we experience looking at the start of life?

Is it insane to act like these feelings don't exist when we look at the end of life while hypocritically embracing them when looking at the beginning of life?

I would be the first to stand up and say that a life lived only by feelings is a life lived in folly and will be cut off prematurely. But should these feelings totally be ignored?

Could it be that the feelings we experience looking at these things are signposts? If so, how can we reconcile the sign of a newborn's birth telling us to celebrate a life that inevitably ends in death?

It is enough to make one insane. Insanity is the height of brokenness. But perhaps instead of letting this dissonance break us, we can let it break the world. The world is indeed broken. By recognizing this, I can rise above the cocophany of dissonance and look for what ought to have been.

But one cannot acknowledge what should have been without presuming upon the idea of purpose. And purpose always has a purpose maker.

These Greek pillars are beautiful works of art. We couldn't also call them ruins unless we knew that their original purpose was to support a coliseum.

Don't ignore the questions of purpose. They are the most important questions of life, illuminating our understanding and pointing to a greater purpose maker.

Exploring Boundaries: Faith & Reason

I believe in the integration of faith and reason. Even many of my Christian brothers & sisters disagree with me here, I am not alone. Pascal, Edmund Burke, Augustine, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias and many many others would echo this affirmation.

When we put on seatbelts to ride in a car, we do so because logic says that the seatbelts make us safer. However because we cannot absolutely know whether or not we will arrive at our destination safely, our decision to ride in the car is based upon faith. Furthermore, if the driver of the car was inebriated, reason would dictate that such faith would be even less founded, if not unfounded.

I believe in Christ but not without reason. But because my reasons can not absolutely prove Him to be true, I still have faith. There is a reason that the Bible says that the Christ who could walk through walls in his resurrected body rolled away the stone from His tomb. It wasn't so that He could get out. It was so that we could see in.

I have blogged on the reasons for my faith in other posts and will not reiterate them again. But now that I have established this nexus of reason and faith, let's explore their limitations.

The limitations of reason are less obvious to many. Maybe you've read about the philosopher who asks questions like "How do I know I exist?" and "How do I know that I'm not really asleep living in a dream?" Go without food and drink for a while and you'll know that you are alive even if you can't explain how or why via reason. We somehow know that we exist but we can't explain how.

The limitations of faith are obvious. I can have faith that the world is flat, that I am the king of Narnia, that I am going to be healthy, wealthy, famous and wise, but reality does not always conform to our faith.

I can have faith that the oil currently spewing into the gulf of Mexico will miraculously stop but I cannot presume my faith upon God's will. It is only when I know the will of God that my faith can have traction.

What is at the boundary of reason if it is not faith? And what is at the boundary of faith if it is not God?