There is no “Us or Them”

“We reject the either or
They can’t define us anymore
Cause if it’s us or them
It’s us for them
It’s us for them”

– Gungor

Last year Gungor released a delightfully dark, lyrically deep, and musically sophisticated album entitled I Am Mountain. Michael Gungor, the band’s founder and front man, also wrote an honest and insightful blog exploring his doubts about biblical literalism and fundamentalism. As a result, they were heavily criticized and even anathematized by many conservative evangelicals (Cf. Ken Ham, Q90 FM Radio, & Al Mohler).

On a personal note, I was living in Wake Forest at the time the controversy broke out and very disappointed when, at the last minute, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary canceled a Gungor concert I had been planning to attend for six months.

Gungor recently released a new song entitled “Us for Them” (which is embedded above). I find the…

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The Pain, Embarrassment, and Bitterness of the Past

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I started this blog in 2008–back when I was a young, arrogant, over-zealous, Evangelical Fundamentalist.  A far cry from the slightly older, arrogant, over-zealous, Catholic I am today.

When I survey my early writings, I feel a pain in my stomach, a sense of embarrassment, and, even a touch of bitterness.  How could I have been so naive; so careless; so proud; so callous?  As I read through the old diatribes–with all their passion and bravado–I am tempted to delete them all; to erase my past completely; to start anew.  But something holds me back.

I remember the words allegedly spoken by Abraham Lincoln in response to an artist who attempted to disguise his imperfections: “Paint my picture, warts and all.”

There is a real temptation to disguise our imperfections and failures; to hide the mistakes from our past; to live a non-authentic life.  But, at its core, this temptation to maintain an air of perfection and respectability is a manifestation of pride.  We don’t want people to realize we’re fallible, that we make mistakes, and that we often make bad decisions because we don’t want people to realize what we truly are: temporary, limited, finite, dust.

Pride is, as the Church Father’s often said, a pernicious form of self-love and stands as the root of all sin.  It cares nothing for others and, therefore, builds itself on an illusion.  The illusion that what matters most in life is our own subjective experience, our individuality.  This illusion, however, is a foundation of sand that will crumble upon the high tide.  As a wise man once said, “all come from dust, and to dust all return” (Eccl. 3:20).

For we are not mere individuals but, in virtue of our person-hood (i.e., our very existence as distinct beings), stand in a reciprocal relation to the external world; and especially to other rational agencies.  Therefore, how we treat others, how we relate to the world around us, truly matters.  We are a community of beings–not isolated free-floating substances.  To live in harmony means we must truly care about the other; our self-love, thus, must be transformed to self-giving.  This is to live an authentic life; to be a person and not a mere individual.

This is why the Bible never hides the imperfections, embarrassments, and utter failures of its protagonists.  They are presented authentically, warts and all, so that we might learn the futility of living a life built upon self-love.

I have, thus, concluded not to delete the blog post’s of my past.  Should someone ever care to read them (and I feel deep sympathy for anyone who does) they will learn that I am a man with deep imperfections; a man often given to self-love.  They might also learn, I pray, that I am a man who desires to change; to grow in my love  and live a life directed towards others.  I, like Honest Abe, desire to be authentic.

So, here stands my blog, warts and all.

Random Musings: Erotic Love

1) Where does erotic love stand in relation to human existence?

2) Perhaps erotic love is the very end of man’s existence – his final goal, his purpose.  If God is dead, then it must be conceded that reproduction is the subconscious irrational driving force behind every decision we make.  Erotic love, under this worldview, becomes the primary tool utilized by evolution (please pardon my use of teleological language) in the preservation and further development of a species; it, thus, becomes the very meaning of our existence . . .

3) If, however, erotic love is the end of our existence then human beings are nothing but sexual objects.  This is precisely what we see in Western culture today – sexuality has been reduced to a mere biological process, a mere physical happening, and, in consequence, looks no different than the buying and selling of Cod at the fish market.  People have become products to be consumed.  Women lust after Magic Mike without a care in the world for his soul, his wellbeing, his happiness.  Men satiate their sexual appetites through internet porn without a care in the world for the sexual health or individual worth of the actors (or in most cases victims of human trafficking) on their computer screen.  We justify this behavior with the soothing notion that human beings are passive agents helplessly blown and tossed by a sea of physical laws and biological determination.  Our hands, we say, are simply tied behind our backs.

4) Sexuality becomes something mechanical and base – something devoid of true love and intimacy, something impersonal and selfish – when we live as if erotic love is the end of humanity.

5) What if we made Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Justice, and Love Himself the end of our existence?  What if we made living up to the image and likeness of the One who brought us into being our purpose?  What if we lived as if other human beings were of great value and importance?  What if we embraced erotic love as an act of self-giving instead of an act of narcissistic self-love?  What if we defined erotic love as two individuals giving of themselves to each other and becoming one flesh; as the intimate sharing of pleasure between two souls bent on each others happiness?  What if we understood that erotic love is a life giving process – the first step in the bringing into being of a new and uniquely special individual?