Peace in a Violent World October 3, 2007Posted by Matt in god, peace, war.
Tags: human nature, Jesus, nonviolence, peace
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Originally Posted 10/3/07
We are a violent people.
From the first moments our ancestors emerged from the primordial sludge eons upon eons ago, they were involved in single-celled scuffles, struggling with all of their might for dominance and survival. Time and time again, throughout the multitiude of millennia and across our small, insignificant-seeming blue orb, our savage natures have resurfaced. From the Genensis legend of Cain and Abel to countless wars to today’s ever-present street crime, our Darwinian predilection toward self-propagation is ever-present in our thoughts and deeds. Our bend toward ferocity premeates even the smallest cells of our physical body as antibodies engage in battle with whatever pathogens attempt to invade the sacrosanct space they defend from harm. Every part of our being seems whoop out a brutish war cry.
But, regardless of this, we are called to be different.
We believe that God dwelt among us in the form of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who came not with fists and swords and AK-47s, but with love. We believe in His example, in which he laid down His life without retaliation.
We are called to not just love our neighbors, but to also love our enemies, regardless of the consequences. It may seem naive to those bent on their own subsistence, looking to survive by any means necessary, but it is the way. It is the path to which He calls us and that, by accepting Him, we choose to walk.
Talking Theology with a Five Year Old September 17, 2007Posted by Matt in evil, Rachel, theology.
Tags: evil, human nature, Rachel, Satan
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Originally Posted 9/17/07
My daughters are very analytical children, always asking questions about everything from natural phenomena to the origins of the clothes on our backs, but this weekend one small query from her threw me for the proverbial loop.
“Daddy,” she asked with an inquisitive sort of look on her face, “Who is Satan?”
I was taken aback for a moment with the immensity of her three word query. How do you answer?
Do you take the premodern viewpoint that the devil is a celestial being constantly waging a dualistic war with God that he is doomed to eventually lose? Do you fill her with Dantean stories of eternal torture to frighten her into doing the right thing? Do you tell her of a shadowy figure, bathed in darkness and with an unquenchable yearning for death, destruction, and corrupted human souls?
In other words, do you tell them something that you believe to be in error?
My children are rather intelligent, if I do say so myself, but I don’t think she is quite ready to grasp the idea that I would espouse. I don’t think she could understand that the idea of the devil is a metaphor for a human nature that tends toward the worship of self. I think she would have trouble with the idea of the devil as an excuse for behavior that is not consistent with the way of Christ. I doubt that I could tell her about how the notion of an evil supreme being most likely came from the influence of the dualistic Zoroastrians on early Christians.
Do you tell a small child that we, all of humanity, are the devil?
Well, in order not to bruise her delicate psyche and turn her into a religious cynic like her father, I took an easy way out.
“Well, honey, some people think that Satan is a really bad thing that is against God and tries to make you do what you are not supposed to.”
This time my non-answer placated her inquiring mind without resorting to the invalidation of my own beliefs, but it won’t be long until I will be forced to give stronger explanations and at this point. Then, before you know it, the investigations will turn to ideas of sin and evil and the social constructions behind them and, once again, I will be flabbergasted and at a loss for a correct answer that will not tear down the belief structure that she has built.
Whew! Nobody every said that parenting was easy….
Professional Sports as a Microcosm of Society September 13, 2007Posted by Matt in sports.
Tags: cheating, human nature, sports
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Originally posted 9/13/07
There is an epidemic in the world of professional sports, a sickness that has now dragged all three of the major organizations under in it’s despicable, cancerous grip – the disease of cheating.
The news of Bill Belichick’s Patriots videotaping opposing teams in order to get an edge was just the latest in a run that includes everything from Major League Baseball’s steroid scandal to NBA referee Tim Donaghy’s gambling. I would venture to say, though, that this seemingly sudden series of sordid skulduggery is not just the work of a few bad apples, rather, it seems to be a product of something bigger, something with a monumental scope over not just the world of pro sports, but engulfing the entirety of our society.
What is it about human nature that drives us to shrug off mantle of ethics, rebuffing our inborn conscience and the well-being of others to gain selfish glory? But the finger cannot just be pointed at others, we are all guilty. We all find occasion to bow at the altar of ego, forsaking all for the god created in our own image. It’s a sad, but true, fact of life that our self-indulgency will drive us to do anything, regardless of who we may hurt along the way, to get ahead.
Is it a byproduct of a capitalist society, where the shrewd and powerful can elbow their way to the front of the proverbial line? Is it because of our inner need to be loved and viewed as a “somebody?” Is it greed? Is it the result of invisible Frank Peretti-like demons hanging on your back? Or is this just the way our species continues to perpetuate itself through natural selection, eventually weeding out the “lesser” among us, giving rise to the next evolutionary phase, the Nietchzean superman?
I don’t know. But I do know that this malady is not just restricted to the world of sports. It can be seen everyday in the businessmen stepping on the heads of their peers to get ahead or in our political leaders, eschewing all ethics in order to reach that next platform of supposed significance or in the test-taking teen with a desire to make the grade or in the person speeding down the expressway, weaving between fellow drivers in their mad attempt to keep a timely schedule, regardless of the chance of an accident.
Were these athletic personalities wrong to cheat their way to the top? Of course. But, before we start casting our pharisaic stones, let’s take a moment of self-examination to remove the piece of timber from our own eye.