Friday, 24 August 2012

Eternity in the Hearts of Men, The Human Need For Ritual

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecc 3:11

You may have heard the expression, "...a God shaped hole in every human heart." This colloquialism is a reflection of exactly this verse from Ecclesiastes. God has built into every one of us a desire to find Him. It is a desire that can only be satisfied by Him; by His Holy Spirit. As Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote in his, "Confessions";

Our hearts are restless until they rest in You

If only people could realize this. Instead they attempt to satisfy this God-given vacuum in any number of different, yet ineffective ways. Without this rest spoken of by Augustine, we have a natural propensity to seek ritual. Ritual must be an attempt to satisfy this longing for God that he Himself has planted within us. But ritual never satisfies, at least not for long. Not permanently. If ritual is merely meaningless, for the sake only of itself, merely to make its performers feel good, or fulfilled, then it must be repeated over and over again. Like a drug, once the initial euphoria has receded, a new fix is craved. And like a drug, the one addicted to these rituals must create ever more elaborate ones.

From here...
...[a]Service of Light was celebrated. Clergy, servers and lay representatives gathered around the Altar and in a brief yet moving liturgy 8 candles were lit signifying: light in the face of fear, light in the face of violence, light in an age of AIDS, hope, healing, courage, community and resurrection.
It is as if the entire, or at least the most important point was that the liturgy was moving. If it was moving it accomplished its purpose. Whether it actually had anything to do with Christ or the historic Christain faith was irrelevant.

"What about the Eucharist?" you may ask, "Isn't that a ritual?" Well, yes, I suppose it is. But it is a ritual commanded by Christ himself. And it is a ritual that is directed at God, so it is a ritual that actually participates in the satisfaction of our spiritual hunger legitimately.

But back to the article - another quote:
 ...when we don’t have the words or don’t know how to pray, a small candle burning brightly expresses our prayer that is always with us –and becomes more powerful with each candle lit.”
Perhaps I read too much into this quote, but it's almost as if they had never read Romans 8;
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Rom 8:26-27)
A small candle burning brightly is supposed to replace the Holy Spirit? Please!

These are probably the same people who go around setting up roadside monuments.

Take Care

h/t Anglican Samizdat


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Openly Gay As A Non-Issue

The new openly gay moderator of the United Church, who is openly gay, sees being openly gay as a non issue.
From Here...
 Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson was elected Moderator of The United Church of Canada by the 41st General Council on August 16, 2012. Paterson becomes the first openly gay leader of a major Christian denomination. At a news conference following his election, he rejoiced that his sexual orientation has been a non-issue.

And then six of the first nine paragraphs go on to mention sexual orientation. Interesting treatment of a non-issue.

One other thing I found interesting - this quote from his bio:

How do we reshape our “outreach ministry,” so that people will also say, “See how much they love the world...”
Which seems strangely at odds with this quote from a dusty old book that may not be considered all that important in some circles anymore:

   Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
I know that may not be what he meant, but I just found the choice of words interesting.

On the other hand, a quote from the Church Father Tertullian, on what the people of the world will really find attractive about the Christian community:
"Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other"

Take Care

Monday, 13 August 2012

Dawkins Admires Speech by Atheist Chaplain's Assistant

From Here...

I am writing this post, not because I wish to insult or cause hurt to the young soldier making the presentation, but because of the site on which it is posted - that of Richard Dawkins, whom I consider to be the most overblown, pompous and illogical thinker one could imagine. Mr Dawkins, or someone under his authority, obviously thought it must have been somehow meaningful.

The speech itself struck me as being rather adolescent, in writing, in delivery and in intellectual depth. Yet the atheists posting and commenting on it found it extremely emotional, soaring to heights of effusive praise, and some even almost to the point of tears. Oddly enough, the part considered most emotional is when he quotes the Bible (around 4:40)

But even if emotion can be explained by purely naturalistic means, why does it matter? If mankind has no spirit, no soul, then feelings must surely be ultimately meaningless. If we are no more than masses of material made up of various elements and running on electrical impulses, what is emotion at all?

Atheists speak of evil, and right, as if they are things they can define, which of course they can't, other than by applying their own subjective opinion to the terms. In the end the atheist position collapses because it is built on intellectual sand. Because no matter how far the atheist argument goes, there is always one more question to be asked. And eventually, even if we can imagine an infinity of questions, there comes a time when the final one cannot be answered.

Take Care

Sunday, 5 August 2012

There Are None So Blind...

... as those who refuse to see.

From here...

Another report confirms what should be obvious, but what certain leaders and opinion-makers cannot, because of either their biases or their blinders, cannot seem to admit: that morality has consequences, and that the breakdown in morality, resulting in the breakdown of the family, may quite possibly lead to a breakdown in our entire society. 

The report is one based on interviews with a number of families and individuals in Great Britain with histories with social service agencies. It shows the generational repetition of sexual abuse, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism and violence.
In one sense, they are victims, not of a social care system in no real position to address their problems, but of a culture which radically overemphasises personal freedom, especially in the sexual sphere, and sold the lie that personal commitment and biological ties were secondary to “self-actualisation”. As the evidence rolled in that this wasn't true, our media, political, academic and cultural elites doubled down on the delusion...
I believe the report (it is rather long) reinforces the obvious - that serial and common-law relationships are far more damaging than what we narrow minded conservatives would call, "traditional marriage." In fact, I've probably said it before, but in my opinion far greater damage has been done to our society by the acceptance of common-law arrangements as equivalent to marriage than has or will be by the issue of gay marriage.

And yes, there are some common-law marriages that work out, but so are there some people who smoke heavily and die at 100.

But so what?

Take Care.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A PerfectCircle

A comment from First Things, on a post on the New Atheists, perfectly sums my own thinking as I attempted to express it in one of my previous posts:
If there is no incorporeal component to the human intellect (a “rational soul”) then ultimately all we think and do is deterministic, the inevitable consequence of antecedent material causes. If that is the case then there really is no such thing as a free will. “New Atheists” who are “certain” of this should then also conclude that:

-- They have no choice but to think that, as they have no free will with which to change their minds about thinking that.

-- Their minds may change, but that happening or not happening is beyond their control – they don't have a free will with which to control anything.

-- Any conclusion they reach about anything is meaningless because experiencing “certainty” is just a biological phenomenon that happens occasionally – they have no choice about it; it just happens regardless of whether their “certainty” is rational or not.
Do atheists really think this way, or do they just not think this far? In any case, if they actually believe in rational thought and the ability to choose between options, they must admit to something beyond the purely natrual. If their point is that there is no such thing as rational thought, then that very belief proves itself admirably. It's a perfect circle.

Take Care

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

We Are a Myopic People

I just finished reading Are We Rome?, a book comparing the present day United States to the Roman Empire. It is a book that takes a lot of words to say not too much and arrive at seemingly no definite conclusion, but it was a rather interesting read nevertheless.
But a few words in the epilogue, a chapter entitled, "There Once Was a Great City" caught my interest.
First, a quote from Charles Darwin:
There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection."
Would we agree with this statement today? Probably not - we would probably be accused of some sort of racism. So, just thinking, if we believe Darwin might have been wrong in that area, what about elsewhere? Like I said, just wonderin'

Another quote, this time a mid-nineteenth century opinion from a Bishop Berkeley, for whom the California city was named:
The world's scepter passed from Persia to Greece, from Greece to Italy, from Italy to Great Britain, and from Great Britain the scepter is today departing. It is passing to 'Greater Britain,' to our mighty West, there to remain, for there is no further West.
Interesting that he felt there was nothing of any consequence west, across the Pacific, of  North America. This, in my opinion, illustrates the propensity among humans, for a certain arrogance that assumes that whatever is current, whatever is now, is ultimately what is right; that whatever we firmly believe is right is indeed right, and that anyone throughout history who ever thought differently was just plain wrong. It ascribes the certainty of 'truth' to prevailing opinion. We have seen it all throughout history; in geocentrism,  in slavery, in the eugenics movement of early twentieth century liberals, in the global warming movement today; even in areas of science where people of a particular time were so certain, but later shown to be wrong. It is the, "Nine Out of Ten Doctors Recommend Camels" syndrome.

Well, today we know different, don't we?

Take Care

Gore Vidal No Longer an Atheist

Gore Vidal has died.
I once actually was a fan of his. Not that I ever read any of his books, but he was a regular token intellectual on the talk show circuit a generation back and I enjoyed listing to him express his thoughts in an intelligent and often biting style. This was all before I became a believer, so as he was a confirmed atheist, and although I have not seen or heard him in many years, I am sure that now I would disagree with many things he would have said.

Here, from one report of his death...
...age and illness did not bring Vidal closer to God. Wheelchair-bound in his 80s and saddened by the death of Austen [his former live-in companion, JK] and many peers and close friends, the author still looked to no existence beyond this one.  
"Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge," he once wrote, "all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. "Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."
There is a time to die for all of us, and either there is something for us after that time or there is not.

It brings to mind what is known as 'Pascal's Wager'. It is not a proof for the existence of God, but it is an interesting thought. It might be expressed something like this:
Either God exists or He doesn't. Upon death, then,
  • If God does not exist, but you erroneously believed in God, you lose nothing.
  • If He does exist and you correctly believed in Him, you gain everything (eternal life).
  • If God does not exist and you disbelieved in Him, you gain nothing (death ends all),
  • But if He does exist and you disbelieved in Him, you lose everything (eternal damnation).
RIP Gore Vidal. It was interesting having you around. In any case, either you are now no longer an atheist, or you are now no longer; period.
We'll see.

Take Care