Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Institutions of Man

In the last two months I have learned once again the danger of placing your faith in organizations created and operated by human beings. I have never been involved with an organization ran by dolphins or pandas...but I can tell you that you should be wary of investing too much of your emotions into the institutions of man.

The desire to belong to something bigger than yourself is natural. Unfortunately power, self-preservation, and the search for prestige are easy temptations for those who wield authority in organizational structures. Unless one's life is completely dedicated to Christ they are motivated in sometimes subtle ways by their baser natures.

It is essential to always keep your faith wholly in Christ and not in the machinery of men. Even institutions meant for noble purposes often fall prey to the sinfulness of man. It is difficult not to be swept away by group-think. It is important always to keep your mind well exercised and sharp. When serving in any organization whether a church board, school district, corporation, political party, NGO, or little league baseball team it is essential to keep focused on the humility of our Lord and Savior. Love everyone as Christ loved us. Don't let even the smallest amount of authority consume you.

As Jesus said; be as meek as lambs and shrewd as wolves. Keep your heart pure and stay above the fray. The New Testament book of Jude recounts the story of archangel Michael's dispute with Satan. Michael stayed true to his principles yet reserved Satan's judgement for God alone.

Think for yourself. You are too unique to subjugate yourself to the tyranny of the mob. Work the community of believers. Love the community of believers. But place your faith only in God. Because the institutions of man will always fail you in the end.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Christian Humanism - Man Has Dignity

In the 1980's Christian ayatollahs such as Jerry Falwell and John Hagee began alarming the world about the insidious threat posed by secular humanism. In their slash and burn strategy even the word humanism sans secular became a word despised by the right wing religionists of the day.

These ignorant hayseeds ignored the fact that it is possible to be a Christian and a Humanist at the same time...ever heard of Michaelangelo or Erasmus? They ignored the fact that Christian Humanism helped liberate the masses from the theological tyranny of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. They ignored the fact that Christian Humanism laid the foundations for the liberal arts education seen in America's high schools and most universities.

To them, anything with the word humanist associated with it needed to be tried by the Calvinist inquisition and burned at the stake.

But I'm with the Christian Humanists. There are four major pillars to their philosophy. I will deal with each in an individual post...

1.) Man has dignity.
2.) Life should be lived to the fullest.
3.) Traditions should be challenged.
4.) Man should be well rounded.


1.) Man has dignity. Since man is a creation of the most high and holy God and that His son Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross so we could receive forgiveness and become His adopted children...that gives us dignity. Michaelangelo demonstrates this beautifully in one section of his Sistine Chapel Masterpiece. Here is God reaching out to man to impart wisdom to his creation. God is stretching is reclining and seeming a bit blase about the whole matter. Man is naked because that is the way God created him and should not be embarassed about God's craftsmanship. (Tragically ironic how today's presentation of nudity tears down and humiliates human beings as mere objects while the Christian Humanist's nudity builds up and dignifies human beings as God's handiwork.)

The angels are smaller beings than man and seem inferior to humankind. This refuted the old medieval presentation of angels as majestic creatures higher than humanity on the spiritual food chain. Michaelangelo was being true to the scriptures which expressed that man was a far higher being than the angels because of mankind's free will.

The shape behind God and the angels resembles the shape of a giant brain. God is imparting wisdom to man. What a special gift! Yes, man is sinful by nature...but God still loved him enough to send his only son. When we receive his salvation...we become an adopted child of God. What position in the universe is more dignified than that?

Falwell and his ilk turn man into a monster doomed to hell unless he repents. The humanists focus on the potential that lies in man if only he chooses to accept God's salvation. Certainly Hell is the consequence to rejecting God. But we should focus on God's wondrous blessing. If we focus on God and Heaven then the path toward Hell will never seem so attractive again.

Always remember that God first reached out to us...not the other way around. Now it's our turn.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Mad Ones

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn burn burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'awww!'"

- Jack Kerouac, On The Road

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stray from the herd

There is a mystical world out there...right at the edge of your fingertips.

The danger arises when as your floating over our earthly drama you get sucked into the ruts of monotony that crease the surface of our existence like Simba's claw marks on our living room coffee table. Once sucked into the vortex of these ruts it becomes very difficult to maintain your perception of the mystical and ethereal nature of life. The longer you dwell in Rutland the more blind and ant-like you become.

The only way out is to detonate an explosion of creative unorthodoxy. You must actively seek the absurd. You must doggedly pursue the metaphysical. You must chase down the glorious drama of human existence. You must be proactive.

Routine is the enemy of imagination. Embrace the chaos and randomness of life. Boredom is the great and terrible symptom of routine. Break down the walls of convention. Look for beauty everywhere. Stray from the herd. Be more than an ant. BE HUMAN!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Burning Flag Man

It was reported yesterday that a 7th grade teacher in Kentucky was reassigned to a non-instructional position in his school district for setting fire to two American flags and then having his class write essays either supporting his right to do so or condemning his action. This teacher is not new to the profession. He has been teaching since 1979.

Although I believe setting fire to the flags in front of his class may have been unwise in regards to maintaining his employment status, I believe there is philosophically nothing wrong in his actions. It is becoming more and more difficult to inspire students to express their opinions in writing. There was nothing obscene about his actions. There was nothing racially, religiously, or ethically inappropriate in his attempt to stir his students to think and write critically. Shocking students can go too far...but this is not one of those instances.

Perhaps he should have shown a videotape of a flag being burned or something of that nature. Although the shock factor would not be nearly as effective with a videotape. Perhaps he should have gained prior approval from his principal. I don't know.

Regardless; as a Christian I believe this whole worship of our flag and our nation has gone too far. I appreciate the United States of America. I appreciate the sacrifice of our veterans. But they were not fighting for a piece of fabric or even an idea. No one in their right mind fights for an idea no matter how poetic that sounds. When the bullets are flying and the bombs are exploding...people fight for things more tangible.

Tom Brokaw's "greatest generation" was fighting for their families and their friends and, according to many interviews with veterans, most of all for their buddies in the trenches with them. I appreciate their drive to protect with their lives that which was most important to them. I don't agree, however, that by refusing to "love" America without question and at any cost that I am treading disrespectfully on their legacy.

I pledge alligiance to Christ. Period. Patriotism often morphs into Nationalism which then evolves into racist xenophobia. Our eyes should be on Heaven. Period. Jesus Christ comes first and foremost. I can respect and have strong feelings for my nation...but if I "love" America then I risk placing that love above my fellow believers simply because they live in another nation.

I do not judge those who have decided otherwise. But I will judge them when they force me to follow their ideologies against my better judgement.

Again I say, never in the New Testament do you see the followers of Christ defending their rights or their nation. Actually, the early Jewish followers of Christ went against the will of their nation by disobeying the commands of the Sanhedrin. And you definately do not find the early Christians pledging alligiance to Rome but to Christ alone.

Now don't misunderstand me...I love the freedoms America gives me...maybe too much. Sometimes I think the materialistic luxuries America provides serve as a stumbling block in my path toward Christ. But I am not going to fall in love with an abstraction. I will love my wife, my son, my family, my friends and most of all my God.

And I will love those who see things differently. And I will not judge someone who burns a piece of fabric in order to help young America begin to think critically and not simply join the brainwashed masses of the mob.

Christ is the savior of all the world...not just America.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It's a Boy!

Well, about four hours ago we went to the hospital to take a sonogram. We went back to the dark room and boom!...there was our baby. The technician took her photos for the doctor and then froze a shot and asked us what we thought the gender was. It was pretty obvious for everyone to see...a healthy little baby boy.

A very active little baby boy. The tech didn't even have to move her wand half the time. He jumped and saumersalted and waved and kicked like crazy. He even opened and closed his eyes and mouth. The tech said he's an active one. His heart rate was great...125 bpm. His spine was clear. He put on quite a show. We taped it so we have nine minutes of the little White show anytime you're in town.

The videotape is much clearer than the still photos...but here's one where he's facing the camera. He has left arm raised with his thumb next to his temple. He could be getting ready to do a K.C. Chief tomahawk chop. So yeah, we're pretty excited. His due date was moved back one day to December 30th. So it should be a fun Christmas break.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Christian Marxism - Part Three - Violent Revolution

The third major foundation of Marxism is the idea that only once the proletariat has overthrown the bourgeoisie and gained control of the means of production can true equality exist. Marx believed that this overthrow must be violent in nature. He believed that the revolution must happen quickly and succinctly and therefore must be violent. Only by using violence would the proletariat succeed in gaining control of the means of production.

It is at this point where Christianity and Marxism cannot be reconciled. The message of Jesus Christ was a message of peace. There is never a point where I could imagine Christ espousing violence in any matter for any matter. From the Ten Commandment injuction "Thou Shall Not Kill" to Christ's Sermon on the Mount never could violence ever be a part of a Christian's life. I believe this to be true whether your attempting revolution or defending democracy. Violence is unacceptable according to the teachings of Christ and he lived out his words by being crucified rather than use the powers at his disposal to fight an unjust government.

The early Christians followed Christ's lead. Nowhere in the New Testament do you find Christians using violence to defend themselves. Instead they choose to be martyred. Violence implies that either rage or greed rests in your heart. Many use violence to protect their interests or their rights and Christ preached against being obsessed with both. Christians aim for a peaceful revolution led by love and Spirit-led conduct. I wrote more on this subject in my Christian Manifesto published on this blog some months ago.

So it is at this point where the greatest divergence occurs between Christianity and Marxism. Do I believe someone can be a Christian Marxist? Yes, but only if they denounce violence as the means to justice. As Camus said..."an end that requires unjust means is an unjust end."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Christian Marxism - Part Two - Private Property

The second and perhaps most important component of Karl Marx's economic theory is that the ideal society can only exist once all private property had been abolished. In fact, Marx himself said that communism could be summed up in one sentence..."the abolition of private property."

Can such a statement be reconciled with Christian philosophy? Absolutely.

The New Testament of Acts describes the early church...perhaps the only true model of a church in Christian sharing everything in common. Here is Acts 2:44-45 (NIV)...

"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."

Whether or not the early Christians gave up all their private property will never be known. But the reigning idea is that private property should not be a concern for a Christian. A Christian's eyes should be focused on Heaven and not be obsessed with the temporal.

There is a grain of truth in Buddha's observation that all suffering is caused by desire and to eliminate suffering you must eliminate desire.

How pervasive is the desire for private property...especially in a capitalistic society? Capitalistic society is run on the engine of greed. Success is soley determined by how much profit you can generate. The germ of profit motive easily infects all aspects of our lives. Soon we become obsessed with having more and more. Even if we do not reach the level of obsession all of us still put enormous concern into our private property.

I am as guilty as anyone. I like my "stuff." But sometimes I wonder how much simpler or elegant my life would be without the albatrosses hanging around my neck (Is that a mixed metaphor? Should I have said millstones instead?). How much time do we all put into worrying about our things? How often do our things and our need for things get in the way of our relationship with Christ? How many people have ignored calls to Christian service in order to preserve their status quo?

So yes, I believe it is indeed possible to reconcile Marx's theory of private property with the Biblical standard.

Special thanks to Simba, my cat, who played fetch with me the entire time I wrote this blog.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

House, M.D.

I don't really have time for television. In fact, I will probably have no time for television whatsoever after December 29th. But this summer I unintentionally picked up another show...Fox's House M.D.. The show has a predictable formula...a patient has some bizarro malady that is killing them and Dr. House and his staff have little time to figure out how to save the patients life. However, how the show executes this formula never ceases to surprise. Dr. House expresses the truth in a bluntness that is inappropriate in conventional social settings...something I wish I could do every day in the classroom without fear of a law suit. Each episode continues to show how amazingly intricate the human body actually is. One of House's favorite aphorisms is "everything is connected." Unconventional show in a conventional television universe.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Overheard in Class - Lucy's alive!

School is back in session!

Question asked by a student while we were looking at this picture of Lucy the 3.5 million year old australopithecus...

"Is she still alive?"

Uh...yeah...she attributes her longevity to drinking green tea!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Floyd's Disgrace

Floyd Landis is an utter disgrace both to cycling and the United States. I held off judgment until the second sample came up positive this morning. If the story we are getting is accurate then Landis is a cheater. He turned one of the greatest feel-good stories in sports history into one of its saddest chapters. The man with the arthritic hip who pulled off one of the greatest stage comebacks used artificial means to accomplish that feat. Unless he was framed, which is extremely unlikely, Landis is a liar and a cheat. I had jumped on the Landis bandwagon. Now that bandwagon should be burned and relegated to the ash heap of forgotten history. Maybe he and Rhett Bomar can pull off scams together at some used car dealership in the desert of nowheresville.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

World Class Knucklehead

I always had my doubts about OU quarterback Rhett Bomar. His early interviews showed an arrogance that portrayed more of unreliable egotism than a fiery confidence. Twice he was busted for minor in possession of alchohol. The second time, he was caught drinking at an Oklahoma City Hornets NBA game. He was completely irresponsible, especially in the light of his position as leader of a major collegiate program. Those incidents worried me. Those worries came to fruition when he was dismissed from the team yesterday due to receiving pay for work he didn't do at his part time off-campus job.

Now OU's conference titles are in jeopardy. This guy is a complete idiot and I will not honor him by placing his picture on this blog. What a complete loser. Maybe Texas will take him. They're in need of a QB.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Flickr Photo Update

I've added some more photos to my Flickr Photo Site. Click HERE to take a gander.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Christian Marxism: Part One - Class Struggle

Can there be such a thing as Christian Marxism?

Lets look at the basic characteristics of Marxism.

- History is the history of class struggle.
- True equality only comes with the abolition of private property and social class distinctions.
- The abolition of private property and social class distinctions will only come about after an inevitable violent revolution of the proletariat overthrows the bourgeoisie and gains control of the means of production.

I'm sure Marx would roll over in his London grave to see his philosophy boiled down in such simplistic terms. However, blogs demand expediency.

So is it possible to reconcile a Christian world view with Marxist theory? The first item to reconciled out of the equation would be Marx's athiesm which inherently makes all conversation moot if not eliminated from the discussion. Marx was discussing politics and economics and religion simply got in the way. I don't believe it was a foundation for the actual carrying out of his ideal philosophy.

Lets proceed to examine each individual point listed above. I will be dealing with each individual point in seperate postings.

- History is the history of class struggle. It would be hard to argue against this point. Even from the Christian view that God has had a guiding hand throughout history it is obvious that man has from the beginning struggled with materialism. Among other aspects, there is a strong dose of greed and materialism in the temptation of Eve and in the story of Cain and Abel.

Class struggle is rooted in greed and the desire to dominate. "Things" and the greedy desire to dominate our own course are often the major obstacles between a person and a relationship with the holy creator. So at this first point I cannot see a conflict with the Marxist belief and Christianity. History is the history of class struggle both in tangible and metaphysical terms.

I'll look at the other points in comparision to Christianity in upcoming posts. Of course, if you think I'm a complete lunatic feel free to leave a comment.