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Friday, January 11, 2008

Faith, Hope and Love

Each of these concepts are complicated. Love for example, is clearly related to emotions, which are chemical responses to one's surroundings. I would not love my wife had I never seen her, nor touched her skin, nor heard her words, nor smelled her perfume, nor tasted her kiss. How true.

I think we could add beauty to the list of semi-emotional concepts. Like the others, there is transient notion of beauty when you first pierce something. But then, there is a more permanent notion of beauty. We experience faith, hope, love, and beauty independent of our natural senses, don't we?

Question: Is there any reason to think that these concepts, these things that we experience without out natural senses, point to a transnatural underpinning to our natural world?

This is important to me theologically because I don't think God is hidden from people. I think everything we need to know God, is available through interaction with the natural world, even if God indicates something more than the natural world.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In what do you trust?

Matt and I went to college together. He was the best man in my wedding. We talk frequently and email all the time. We know each other.

We also both love our families very much. In fact, both our families include a mom, a dad, a daughter, and a son.

We both give to charity. We both believe that science has made the world a better place by revealing truths of the natural world. We both think capitalism is the best economic system. We both think Christianity provides a pretty good moral code to live by; we both think religion has been used as a tool to cause much suffering on the planet; we both think the Bible is a collection of writings by faithful followers of the Judaism.

One of the very few differences in our demographic statistics is that I believe in God, and Matt does not believe in God because Matt knows that God does not exists. But the question is: So what? What difference does my fidelity to and trust in God matter since we are so similar in so many ways?

Investigating the Sermon on the Mount may have revealed a difference. Here is the verse we were talking about, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." My take on this is that it is a truism that it is risky to vest your security in your preparation in the world. Matt's take on it was that it was an outdated reflection of an uncertain world that no longer exists--or at least has to exist for guys like me and Matt and everyone who reads blogs.

Wealth and job security, and even loved ones and health, can be easily taken away from us. Of course, we should be responsible with our finances and relationships and our bodies because there is no reason to make problems. But, the most secure way to live, is to trust in something more than us. The most secure way to live is to trust in a universal goods. To have a faith in the God, or Karma, or the cosmos. Not only is it a faith in something that cannot be taken away: it allows us to fully and fearlessly experience our world that includes wealth and family and health.

Okay, I would really like to hear your thoughts on this. Is this crazy mumbo jumbo? Have I crossed the line into the fanatic? Come on, let me have it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Earning & Deserving

I've been thinking about what it means to earn your income recently. We have an economy that makes compensation almost completely independent of any conscious evaluation of how valuable or difficult your work is. I suppose your employer may make such an evaluation, but the variation in how much money your employer gives you is much smaller than the variation based on what job you have.

In some sense, earn just means money your received for doing a job. However, earn can also mean getting something you deserve. So here is my hang up, I think if you earn a nice living, you should be thankful for it. Because, while you earned your salary in a legal sense, in a moral sense you really don't deserve 10-20 times more income than others working as many hours or as hard.

What do you think? Is it accurate to say that our system of capitalism necessarily means no one should feel that they deserve their income from a moral perspective, and as a result they should respond with thankfulness and charity? Or, is this standard limousine liberal self-loathing?

P.S. I came across some Biblical instructions on lending. As you might expect, one is supposed to loan money with no interest and forgive all debts every seven years. But just as I was about to ponder whether Christians should be picketing pay day loans, I read this: You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a brother Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess. Deut. 23:20. Ug.