Sunday, January 31, 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016
It occurs to me that a virtual world is a world without virtue. Virtue must be cultivated in the soul in the context of relationships; of heart to heart, soul to soul, mind to mind. Character is only developed in community – a flesh and blood community of touch and feel and smell and taste and look and body language.
But of course we no longer talk of virtue because we don’t want it – it is too costly, too inconvenient; let us kill character, let us kill virtue – let us profane the sanctuary…surely God is not looking.
I don’t understand the full import of the videos of death, but I know they are insidious in that they perpetuate the desensitization of society. The FBI releases video of the recent killing of a lawbreaker and we the jury are called upon to answer, “Yea, we find the killing justified”. What was once the domain of the bedroom is now flaunted in public, and what was once the domain of the courtroom is now thrust upon us by not only entertainment producers and news media, but also by our own government. We are called upon to watch one man kill another, all in the name of justifying the killing and of quieting public opinion. We can’t wait for due process, we can’t wait for reflection, we can’t wait for a jury (if it should come to that) to acquit an officer of the law. We are called to take our seats in the coliseum and turn our thumbs up or down.
How do we distinguish between killing in movies, in video games, and in police videos?
Video images of evil likely have their place (I’m thinking of genocide and of the Civil Rights movement particularly), but that place should be one of prudence and circumspection – giving thought to when and where and how they are presented. What will it be like to be a child growing up in a society in which “real-time killing” is shown on a regular basis? How can a child distinguish between “real-time killing” and killing in video games and movies? How can an adult who has been desensitized to killing?
Monday, January 25, 2016
We have bird feeders; two hoppers, two tube feeders, one niger (nyjer) seed feeder, and one suet feeder. We also have a bird bath that we heat during the winter. During the recent snowstorm with low temperatures we were concerned about the birds, making sure the bird bath had water and that the feeders were kept supplied. In addition to song birds, the feeders also attracted crows, and where there is one crow there are many crows.
I realize that crows have to eat too, but when the crows arrive the little birds flee, and so while the crows get their share (or at least I’d like to think so), we often shoo them away with clapping, loud exclamations, or a bell. Sometimes I play the role of scarecrow, standing outside some twenty or thirty feet from the cluster of feeders – the song birds don’t mind my presence; the crows stay away when they see me.
Yesterday, while playing the role of scarecrow, I watched the cardinals at the feeders and as I watched I thought about my concern for them in the extreme weather. I realize that there are countless birds in the world and countless birds in Virginia and countless birds in Chesterfield County; but I wasn’t thinking about countless birds, I was thinking about the birds in our immediate area, about the birds who frequent our feeders. The birds and critters who live on and around our home matter to us, we see ourselves as stewards of their little lives and we see our small piece of land as a microcosm (albeit an imperfect one) of the words of Isaiah, “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.”
As I pondered my love for the birds at the feeders I thought of my Father’s love for me and of Jesus’ words that we are worth more than many sparrows and also of His reminder that our Father feeds the birds of the air. (In case you’re wondering why we feed the birds since God already does, my answer is that when Vickie and I feed the birds we participate with our Father in His care for creation. We also enjoy it!)
Then I thought that while I don’t know the names of the birds at the feeders and yet I love them, that my Father and Lord Jesus know my name and they love me deeply – so much so that Jesus died for me, bearing my unfathomable sin on the Cross, rising for me and coming again for me into my life…calling me to Himself. This is the great mystery of life for me, the great struggle, to accept the love of God for me, to acknowledge how much He loves me. I look forward to seeing Him face to face so that my acceptance of His love will be consummated, but until then I do struggle. I do not struggle with His love for others, and I find His love for others growing in me, but when it comes to His love for me, I just cannot begin to comprehend how it could be that He would lavish His grace and mercy on me.
Jesus challenges my faith with His words, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they?...will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” [Matthew 6:25 – 34].
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Monday, January 11, 2016
If we are machines then physicians are mechanics. Physicians seem to be driven by economics to treat us as machines – fix so many machines every day to be profitable. (I had a wonderful physician who left his group practice because of this). It is good to find an auto mechanic who loves cars.
Friday, January 8, 2016
If I strive to “live in the moment” then I have no past or future; nor do I have a present for a present is found in the context of the past and future. But the moment? I am told (though I don’t believe it) that animals all live in the moment – so then am I called downward to live as we suppose animals live?
Thursday, January 7, 2016
If all behavior can be attributed to a diagnosis of environmental or biological factors then ultimately no one is responsible for their behavior. To not be responsible for my behavior is not to be responsible for myself. If I am not responsible for myself then am I a “self”?
If the answer to behavioral problems is found in manipulating my environment or my biology, then am I anything more than a machine? A computer? Then am I a “self’?