Christians are called to win the battle of ideas and values in secular society, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said Tuesday.via Never accept’ separation of faith from political engagement, Archbishop Charles Chaput says
Chaput is my bishop. I can say he is a man of integrity: pretty hardcore about certain things and I’d be willing to wager that he’s not the turn a blind eye “for the sake of Peter” type from sexual abuse if he were investigate (and to date there’s been no evidentiary reason to do so). He’s been pretty frank about bishop moral credibility, etc. I’ve seen him ay to a bunch of white folks in a suburban parish how they have racism in them and need to combat it to their faces in front of black people no less (of course including me). He’s said repeatedly, that refusing to aid the poor whether government program or charity just because buys you a first class non-stop ticket to Hell. He’s lamented that too many of us have the faith of a 10-year-old, etc. So I respect him and his intentions in general.
Continue reading “A Bishop’s License to Ill”
Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are— or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.
This does not mean that there are no facts. In the demonstration, two individuals who initially have been influenced by different conditioning pictures look at the third picture together. They are now both looking at the same identical facts— black lines and white spaces— and they would both acknowledge these as facts. But each person’s interpretation of these facts represents prior experiences, and the facts have no meaning whatsoever apart from the interpretation.
The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view. [emphasis mine] The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Indeed. That is who I decide to be: a person of integrity who takes responsibility for himself with a firm grasp of reality. It is not easy and Lord knows I fail probably more often than I’d care to admit. (Anger is a powerful drug.) If you have ever had a passionate discussion on politics or religion with someone, this difficulty should be apparent. As responsible adults we can overcome this. (You must if you wish to be an effective person by Covey’s lights.)
Continue reading “Facts Are Stubborn Things”
But in my debates and passionate discussions over the years, I’ve witnessed many people who make no attempt to develop a more objective worldview. People project their fears and hatreds onto one another. I can’t tell how many times I’ve been told what I believe or don’t, what shows I watch, what blogs I read, that I’m an atheistic Jesus freak with a capitalistic communist political outlook. None of which have even a hint of reality. It’s very true that people that become shrill and say these things to me are indeed showing who they are rather than the world as it is.
I recently finished up re-reading the book The Resurrection: Myth or Reality? by Episcopalian bishop John Shelby Spong that totally consumed my “free” time over the last couple of weeks. Being that it’s Lent, I wanted to, as I got my ashes on Ash Wednesday, “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.” Reading religious books (beyond The Good Book of course) is one way I chose to stop and reflect on my faith and what better book than about The Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Spong has always spoke directly to me and help me put words to a faith I find difficult to describe.
I realized that I never really confronted exactly what I positively believe about the resurrection and afterlife. I tend to dismiss literal interpretations of sacred history recounted in The Bible, but that’s a negative affirmation: what I don’t believe. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is in fact risen and alive though not as I am. He’s alive in a way I’ve struggled to put in words beyond a vague spiritual description, but Spong does better.
It was as if scales fell from his eyes and Simon saw a realm that is around us at every moment, a realm of life and love, a realm of God from within which Jesus appeared to Simon.
As I expected, Spong confirmed that resurrection is not the sort of thing you film and playback on a DVD much less narrate.
Was it real? Yes, I am convinced it was real. Was it objective? No, I do not think it was objective. Can it be real if it is not objective? Yes, I think it can, for “objective” is a category that measures events inside time and space. Jesus appeared to Simon from the realm of God, and that realm is not within history, it is not bounded by time or space.
Continue reading “The Resurrection and the Life”
I just read a great article that details disagreement that actually elevates a discussion’s participants far better than I have ever done. This is why I’m not a fan of rhetorical battle which on the DH scale is approximately DH3.5. It’s pretty and can convince those dazzled by eloquence or volume, but it’s not really substantive. Sophistry is what it is. And we are all guilty of it from time to time. That’s human.
For example, we cannot argue about matters of faith for reasons best given by example.
P1: The Bible is the Word of God.
P2: No it isn't.
P1: I know God.
P2: So do I.
The second statements should be completely true for P2 who contradicts P1, but without evidence to back P2 up she/he hasn’t made a convincing argument for either one’s veracity. That’s why I try to be very picky about how and why I argue things about faith, the Bible, politics, etc. Evidence requires substance and empirical observation. I can make a convincing argument based on evidence that the Bible doesn’t refer to itself at least the Bible. That’s cut and dry like saying that John begins with “In the beginning, was the Word.”
What’s more interesting, is that I can make a convincing argument that the Bible and the Word of God are not the same things provided I define them well. Based on those definitions which are real empirical things, I can construct an argument that differentiates them. That is a subtle but very important difference from proving the statement: “The Bible is not the Word of God.” A faith assertion that is not subject to rational argument. Faith is not argued; it is confessed.