Sunday, September 30, 2007
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay Thy morning sacrifice.
Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew;
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design to do or say;
That all my pow'rs, with all their might,
In thy sole glory may unite.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Is it a sin to fall asleep during a sermon?
(See previous post)
Joe thinks cats are people, John thinks their not. As a Hobbesian, how would one resolve their conflict? (You are not allowed to envoke the authority of the Sovereign)
What does it mean to live intentionally?
What does it mean to be accomplished?
Am I living to my full potential?
Why am I jealous of others?
Why am I so lazy?
Why am I so un-motivated?
Why is life so meaningless without God?
Why do I seem to forget the previous question so often?
Why can't I get up earlier?
How can I become better than I am?
Why does God love us?
Is THI worth going to (instead of other schools)?
Am I going to do well on my SAT and PSAT?
Will I ever read this post in the far off future?
If the cat got killed by curiousity, what killed the dog?
Why is music so beautiful?
Why is learning and growing so wonderful?
Why is God so good?
Just some things I'm thinking about.....
I know, I know, Gasp! Horribible. And it wasn't even a boring sermon (although that isn't a good excuse either)! To make it ten times worse, I did it next to my friend...who really don't care about going to church. Sigh. I seem to have become a stumbling block. And a horribly ashamed and guilty one at that. How do I go about fixing it? Or at least stemming the damage? I may have irrevocably given him the worst impression possible, that Christianity is boring?! Oh Lord, forgive me.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Who, unfortunately, has ADD (Can dogs even be diagnosed with that?):
I love her, of course, but at times, she can be quite a handful. This fact was especially apparent today, when I was taking out the trash cans. As I opened the backyard door, a bolt of furry energy barreled past me and straight into the cul-de-sac. At this point I was debating the effectiveness of yelling expletives while my feet were carrying me around the corner, frantically chasing my dog who was speeding along at roughly Mach 3. After about ten blocks, a cramp or two and quite a few evil thoughts involving a meat grinder and a certain female dog, I finally catch the little, 55-pound Goldendoodle. Of course, at this point, I launch into a formulaic lecture (in a very harsh tone) about ungratefulness, naughtiness, and the best way to send a dog through a meat grinder.
When we finally reach home, I make sure she understands her wrong-doing and vow not to even pet her for two days. Then this happened:
Look at those eyes! Yes, I know, how cruel and cold hearted of me, how could I ever think of punishing such an adorable creature? Well, it's pretty obvious that the no-petting policy was quickly done away with and widdle snookums bathed in the sunshine of favor once again. It's a dog eat dog world out there.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Yorba Linda I
Socratic Dialogue Project
April 24, 2007
PERSONS OF DIALOGUE: Uncle Bill, Nephew
The Scene: Aboard a Long-Haul Flight to New Zealand (First Class Seating).
NEPHEW: Uncle Bill, can you tell me whether or not happiness exists; or if we’re all doomed to a meaningless and joyless existence on this tiny, inconsequential speck of dust?
UNCLE BILL: Whoa there! When did you start getting so depressed? What happened?
UNCLE: [Looks exasperated, at first, then chuckles and has a look of quiet amusement]
I can relate to that. I’ve often wondered myself whether there was any happiness on this “tiny, inconsequential speck of dust” as you so aptly put it.
NEPHEW: You mean you’re almost 50 and you don’t know yet!?
UNCLE: SHHHHHH! I’m in my late 30’s if anyone asks. [winkwink] And as for your question, I don’t think I would say that I have found the answer yet, but I wouldn’t say that I haven’t found the answer either. It’s complicated.
NEPHEW: How complicated?
UNCLE: Well, you live for 50…I mean 30 years and you see a lot of things. Some of the stuff you see around you seems to support one side of the argument, yet on the other hand you’ve got people like Mother Theresa.
NEPHEW: Hey! I know what we can do! Why don’t we do a Socratic dialogue that my Teacher’s been telling me about?
UNCLE: Oh! You mean the philosophical thing where all those Grecian old guys with huge beards dressed in their bed sheets start firing questions at each other and the guy with the largest beard does most of the talking and the other guy just listens and says ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’?
NEPHEW: Yeah, yeah that one! Why don’t you be that So-crates guy.
UNCLE: Why me? And by the way, it’s actually So-cra-tEEs.
NEPHEW: Well you are almost fif….forty.
UNCLE: And I suppose I am the only one with the ability to grow a beard…
NEPHEW: Hey, I’ve got some stubble!
UNCLE: Sure you do kid.
NEPHEW: You mean it!?
UNCLE: [Breaking the fourth wall] Sarcasm is a foreign language to my nephew.
UNCLE: I think I see some fuzz. [winkwink] Alright, so, your question is, “Does happiness exist” right?
UNCLE: So, I think the most obvious place to start would be to ask, “What do you think happiness is?”
NEPHEW: Well, I think that happiness is having a purpose in life and enjoying that purpose. Because I see all those rich people and most of them aren’t all that happy. They just make money and try to spend it on something that’s more entertaining than the last thing they spent their money on, come to think of it, that’s what I do most of the time. That’s why I’m wondering if there’s something better.
UNCLE: That’s a good place to start, but I think I’ve found a way where your definition would fall through.
UNCLE: Murderers are bad right?
NEPHEW: Yeah, that’s what the law and the Bible says.
UNCLE: Right, so what if you were a murderer? You’d have a purpose, right? And you’d also ‘enjoy’ your job, right? So who’s to say murderers aren’t happy?
NEPHEW: But that can’t be true! Murderers aren’t supposed to be happy, are they?
UNCLE: Well why not? According to your definition, they are.
NEPHEW: Oh, I see, I didn’t define my terms well enough, haha, I got marked down for that in school too. [smacks forehead]
UNCLE: Exactly, so what do you think would be a better definition that bypasses this obstacle?
NEPHEW: Well, I suppose we’d have to define happiness as having a purpose in life that does not interfere with the happiness of others and having the ability to achieve that goal.
UNCLE: Okay, but what if my purpose in life was to make lots of money and spend it?
NEPHEW: Well then I suppose that as long as you do not interfere with the happiness of others then you’re fine. But it seems wrong somehow.
UNCLE: How so?
NEPHEW: Well, we’re obviously pretty well off if we can fly first-class on all of our flights. First-class seating is almost three times that of economy.
UNCLE: Okay, our family is rich, so what?
NEPHEW: Well, a lot of our family doesn’t seem to be too, I don’t know, happy, all they do is work so they can enjoy themselves. It never ends.
UNCLE: Okay, so how do you think we should revise your definition of happiness into one that conforms with what we, as Christians can agree with?
NEPHEW: Isn’t that implying that people who aren’t Christian can’t be happy?
UNCLE: Whoa, haha, you’ve caught me. You’re right, it does imply that non-Christians cannot be happy so I should re-word what I just said. Obviously, rich people derive some sort of satisfaction from making money and spending it, else they would not work so hard for it.
NEPHEW: Correct, you should, therefore revise your statement.
UNCLE: Alright, how does this sound, “How should you revise your definition of happiness into one that accounts for worldly satisfaction and yet points to Christ as the greatest quality and quantity of happiness?”
NEPHEW: Good, but I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
UNCLE: And I thought I was playing Socrates. [Smiles] How so?
NEPHEW: Our original question was, “Does happiness exist, and now the way you’ve worded your question makes it sound like we’re actually starting with the premise that happiness exists and we’re happy-go-lucky Christians who want to convert everybody.
UNCLE: Wow. [shakes head] Pessimistic are we?
NEPHEW: I prefer the term: Angst.
UNCLE: Alright, we’ll do it your way. How bout this question sound to you, “Define happiness in a way that 1) does not interfere with the happiness of others 2) accounts for material satisfaction 3) yet points to a more profound form of happiness that worldly wealth is not able to satisfy.” To quote the popular saying, “Money can’t buy happiness”.
NEPHEW: How would you cite a popular saying?
UNCLE: Come again?
NEPHEW: Never-mind. Okay, so according to your guidelines, how does this sound? Happiness is having a purpose in life that is not based on…..desire?
UNCLE: How so?
NEPHEW: Well, in the bible it says that “He that wants money, never has it enough” so by denying the desire for material possessions we can achieve happiness.
UNCLE: That sounds an awful lot like Buddhism. Not that it’s wrong (we wouldn’t be politically correct in denouncing them) but as Christians…
NEPHEW: Who said I was a Christian? I mean, if this happiness thing isn’t solved for me, I see no point in being one. For that matter, if there’s no happiness, then why live at all?
UNCLE: Ah, all the more reason for searching. So, continuing, from a Christian perspective, why doesn’t everyone just give away all their possessions and follow Buddha?
NEPHEW: I don’t know? Money seems very meaningless and shallow to me.
UNCLE: So why aren’t you a follower of Buddhism?
NEPHEW: Wait, I think I just had an epiphany! This totally changes my definition of happiness.
UNCLE: How so?
NEPHEW: We’ve already established that worldly wealth cannot bring profound joy and happiness right?
UNCLE: Actually, we haven’t even defined happiness, but let’s see where you’re going with this idea.
NEPHEW: Alright, stay with me, the reason that I don’t follow Buddhism is that their chief motivation for denying themselves of everything and achieving ‘enlightenment’ is because they want to atone for all the bad things they’ve done and find happiness. All they’re doing is just avoiding the problem. They dismiss humanity’s innate desire for happiness by denying themselves of everything, emotions, wealth, etc. Essentially, Buddhism is based on denying desire.
UNCLE: Okay, so how does this help us?
NEPHEW: It gives us a HUGE clue!
UNCLE: I’m confused….
NEPHEW: According to Buddhists, being happy, also involves feeling atoned! Or being ‘good’! It involves satisfying that innate moral law that drives human actions. That’s why I feel so terrible every time I do something ‘bad’ which goes against this, this, law I have inside me.
UNCLE: [smiles] Now we’re getting somewhere. Keep going.
NEPHEW: Happiness therefore must also include not just fulfilling the moral law, but doing it for the sake of the thing itself and not for selfish gain, ideally, of course.
UNCLE: Of course. Nicely done, now finish it off.
NEPHEW: So happiness consists of 1) having a purpose which is fulfilling the natural moral law 2) is without selfish desire because we’ve already concluded that if you continue to want more, you’ll never have enough.
UNCLE: All right! But you still have a couple loose ends.
NEPHEW: Which are?
UNCLE: 1) You have not defined the moral law 2) Buddhism’s form of happiness is essentially the same as what you’ve just defined. So again, why are you not Buddhist?
NEPHEW: Huh? I thought I’d just explained that…please ‘enlighten’ me.
UNCLE: Your definition of happiness requires a person to fulfill the moral law with the right motives. Right?
UNCLE: So essentially, it’s now a contest between Buddhism and Christianity. Both offer a way to do this, fulfill the moral law, I mean. The first by human power and the second by divine. Buddha’s goal was to find the truth and attain happiness, a lot like what you’re trying to do. He basically said that the root of all suffering is desire and that by denying desire, we can find happiness and become ‘good’ people.
NEPHEW: Oh. I see. So are these the only ways to happiness?
UNCLE: You tell me.
NEPHEW: You know what Uncle Bill, I’m sick and tired of having to answer question after question after question. I do enough of that in school already, do I really need to do that over Easter Break too?
UNCLE: You know, if I tell you, it won’t be your’s to keep. You must learn to become independent, and find the answers for yourself. No one can help you except Him. [Points towards the cabin ceiling].
NEPHEW: Sigh. ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT.
UNCLE: Good. Now tell me why it is that we follow Christ instead of Buddha.
NEPHEW: Let me research on just what Buddhist believe. Okay? Then we’ll continue our discussion. Er, Socratic Dialogue.
UNCLE: Alright, wake me up when you’re done looking through their beliefs.
NEPHEW: Will do.
THIRTY MINUTES LATER…
NEPHEW: I’ve got it! I know why we don’t believe in Buddhism.
UNCLE: Okay, why?
NEPHEW: Buddhists believe in the Four Noble Truths which is basically summarized like this, “The world is screwed over because everyone keeps on pursuing happiness in their own, twisted ways. Therefore, by not pursuing happiness and changing your mind set to a state where you don’t care about anything and don’t hurt anyone, you achieve happiness.” Sounds easy right? Well, that’s just it! It’s not easy, no matter how hard we try, there will never be anyone who truly achieves this, we will always be sinful no matter how hard we try.
UNCLE: Good. So why do we believe in Christianity?
NEPHEW: Because Christianity can be summarized like this, “The world is screwed up because Man disobeyed God. Because you disobeyed God, it is now in your nature to sin and do evil to yourselves and to others. You can’t change your nature. And because you sin, at worst, you’ll die an eternal death and at best you can enjoy these meaningless pleasures that the world offers and then still have to die the second death. God knows this. So he sent his Son as a sacrifice for all of humanities sins. And because Jesus was fully human as well as fully God he was able to achieve the formerly impossible, live a perfect life and at the same time have a sinful tendency. And because Jesus did it, He can give this same power to live a perfect life to all who believe that he came to die for humanity. So that they can not only find happiness, but have eternal happiness. Free from sin forever.
UNCLE: Nice summary. But it seems to me to be just a matter of preference. Right?
NEPHEW: Wrong. It’s not possible to achieve happiness on your own, you need God.
UNCLE: So let’s summarize.
NEPHEW: We started with the question, “Does happiness exist?” and we tried several definitions. Then we finally came up with, “Happiness is fulfilling the innate moral law and having temperance or contentment.” We found that two religions offer a way to do this: Buddhism and Christianity. And we went through a discussion on which one works. We finally concluded that Christianity is more viable as a path to happiness because Buddhism doesn’t work.
UNCLE: Of course there are still those loose ends that I mentioned earlier, but…
NEPHEW: Let’s not worry about them and say we did.
UNCLE: Sounds good to me! [Both Laugh]
"Love itself is unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring"
As this is a blog mainly about moving further up and further in, it would be important to ask, just why we as Christians strive to grow in Christ. In the discussion, the question of "What is worth doing in life?". Of course I know (Or at least I've been taught) that Knowing and understanding Christ Jesus and through him God the Father and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate goal in this life and the next (Phillipians 3). But Mr. Buhler (playing the Devil's Advocate) brought up the Greek myth of a man who was punished to be forever pushing a stone up a hill and watching it roll down again. Essentially, he declared all things futile, even the pursuit of the Knowledge of God. But I disagree completely with the author of Ecclesiastes for several reasons which I'll post about in the next post.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I Am in Need of Music
By Elizabeth Bishop
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
I am both in awe and wonder at the beauty I see. God has been so wonderful that I am speechless. I haven't flt this excited about the world I live in for a long, long time. This beauty, this excitement, this wonder, they all come from God. I'm thinking, engaging, and admiring things that are far too wonderful for me. Yet by God's grace I'm allowed to live and to wonder. Is there a diference in wandering and wondering? This desire for more, this need to be something or someone I'm not, this aching void to feel, to grow, to truly live and work toward all that I am meant to be in Christ, that is purpose. that I have been blessed with this knowledge is beautiful beyond words. God is wonderful, close, distant, attainable awe-full, both a part of me and everything I'm not. And yet, I'm afraid. Is this all a dream. will I go home and forget about all this until the next time I get a spiritual high? Will I fall back into the complacency and lethargy that I've fallen back into countless times? Lord, help me. I am weak. help me to want to want to love you. this connection between the God I serve and my everyday life. I don't want this to end. and I don't think it ever has to. Thank You Lord, for everything. Help me be like You. I want to know you more.