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A Great Philosophy for Living

21 Sep

I caught the following paragraphs in a blog called “Wild Bells”, written by Wayne Abernathy on WordPress.  After describing some wonderful memories from “olden days”, he summarized his outlook on life beautifully.

[Begin Excerpt]

These have stocked my treasury of marvelous memories. I am rich with them. Yet I have more observances to come. To these I look forward.

Here is what I believe about these riches. I can take them out of the treasury each year and seek to recreate them, to work to experience them all over again. If I do, I have but relived and re-experienced what I already have. I add little new to the treasury. Many people celebrate this way. It seems to me a squandered opportunity and probably dangerous. I doubt that the previous charm can be revived, that the wondrous experience of the past can be recaptured. I fear that the joyful and rich memory might even be harmed by the failed effort. Worse, much can be consumed, much exertion expended, and still frustration and misery—for myself and others—may result in the trying.

I believe that a better approach would be to create new magnificent memories. These can build upon the past and work from valuable traditions. The good of the past can be drawn upon to create something greater. The effort is to make a new experience, not vainly recall to life a treasured memory. Not every holiday experience will produce equal joy and beauty, but if allowed to live for its own sake each will add to the fullness of life and the value of our storehouse of life’s treasures. Each will have the chance to be the most marvelous experience yet.

I am not prepared to concede that the best of my life has been lived or that the finest that I can do is recreate only what has happened before. I fancy to live life on the rise. I see no loss in trying.

[End Excerpt]

A small piece of exceptional writing — and philosophy.

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Just What Is Tolerance?

26 Feb

The following is an excerpt from a recent column by Edward Morrissey, giving his perspective on what the word “tolerance” has come to mean – and what it should mean.  The entire column can be found at

http://theweek.com/article/index/256865/on-wedding-cakes-gay-marriage-and-our-growing-inability-to-tolerate-one-another

Excerpt:

Judging by the latest skirmishes in the battle over gay marriage, perhaps everyone could use a refresher course on the meaning of “tolerance.”

The locus of the debate has shifted to the wedding industry itself. Until recently, the industry didn’t need to concern itself over heterodox forms of the ceremony and celebration, but the passage of same-sex marriage laws (or judicial rulings imposing them) have put the focus on commercial enterprises such as bakers, florists, and photographers. Do these merchants have the right to refuse service in order to avoid participating in an event that might violate their religious beliefs?

In Colorado, at least, the answer is no.

A judge in Denver ruled in December that Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips, had illegally discriminated against Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who wanted a wedding cake for their nuptials. Phillips, a Christian, refused to participate in the event, but he won’t have that option in the future. No damages were assessed in the case, but Judge Robert Spencer informed Phillips that he could not refuse service on the basis of his religious beliefs if it meant discriminating against gays. Phillips, for his part, says he’ll close his business before being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding.

Left unspoken is why anyone would want a baker for their wedding who didn’t want to participate — or a florist for that matter, or a photographer. Weddings are traumatic enough for all concerned without deliberately boosting the tension levels to a Spinal Tap-esque 11. Leaving the issue of religious belief aside for a moment, Phillips cannot possibly be the only baker in Denver capable of producing a wedding cake. Why not take Phillips at his word, tolerate his religious beliefs, and find a baker with more enthusiasm for the event? . . . .

Tolerance does not mean acceptance or participation. It means allowing people to make their own choices about what they choose to do, and to respect the ability of their fellow citizens to do the same as long as it does no injury to them. What this contretemps shows is that America is getting a lot more intolerant the more “tolerant” we become.

[End of excerpt]

More Thoughts on Atheism vs Christianity

16 Jan

I find my thoughts once again going to the debate about atheism, deism (a god, but uninvolved with his creation), theism (an involved god), and Christianity, as we see more attempts to suppress a) public displays of Christian symbols, and b) public expression of Christian beliefs.

[My first post offering thoughts on these murky waters was on 1/4.]

Over the centuries, and even in today’s society, we have had many great thinkers put forth cogent arguments for the existence of God and the correctness of Christianity.  They include well-known philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and theologians, as well as many “regular Joes”.

I rather like the relatively modern argument that if you are an atheist, you must believe (if you believe the “Big Bang” theory) . . .

1) that the “Big Bang” accidentally produced all the dozens of necessary physical laws and constants (to multiple decimal places) to have accidentally created the perfect synergy of forces that resulted in the eventual formation of life on a little orb we call Earth (yes, and maybe some other orbs out there), and even intelligent life (now in decline, of course) – the odds of all of this being infinitely small;  OR

2) that there were an infinite number of “Big Bangs”, and one of them did, by chance, wind up with all the right laws and constants — an alternative that is really hard to wrap our minds around, but is under discussion in some quarters;   OR

3) that all of these perfect laws and constants predated the “Big Bang”, which then leads us to . . . what??

Whether a deist, theist, or an atheist, logically we wind up at the question of TRUE beginnings (i.e., Where did God come from? or Where did the “Big Bang” physical matter come from?), and none of the basic three beliefs (deism, theism, atheism) solves this question.

So – to me —  if we ignore the unfathomable questions of beginnings of beginnings, it seems to me that, in thinking about physical beginnings as we know them, the theory of “Intelligent Design” sounds every bit as reasonable as a theory of “accidental occurrence”.

Of course, the “Intelligent Design” theory says nothing about whether there might be one designer (god) or a group of designers (gods), and whether designers/god(s) take any interest in this intricate, marvelous creation.  But at least after thinking about “Intelligent Design”, it seems to me that arriving at a preference for theism rather than deism is a rather small hurdle, for reasons I might get motivated to put into print one day (although many who are much smarter than I have already done so).

But if a person gets to a place where (s)he accepts theism as not only a reasonable hypothesis, but an accepted likelihood (as far as faith allows), there still remains a considerable hurdle in the jump from theism to Christianity.  Acceptance of a one-god view of the universe is a pretty decent first step, though.  And the truly curious will then go on to explore the options within that view.

Speaking as a Christian, I think this would not be such a great hurdle for the questioning masses if more Christians had been able to live up to the standard that the Christ set for us.  Unfortunately, seeking to live up to that standard is not only the most rewarding quest a human can undertake, but it is the most difficult quest to sustain, as we find in evidence all around us, within us, and throughout history.  Any arguments for Christianity must at least reconcile inconsistencies between the historical, current day, and internal motivations and actions of “Christians” with the direction and promises from the New Testament.  Sounds like another fun topic for another day . . . .

I wonder, though, if, in order to find “real” Christianity throughout history, we need to look more closely at the sidebars of history rather than its main events.  Main events are often led or inspired by corrupted leaders, with (again, often) horrible results.  If we simply look at the big events, we are, indeed, tempted to say that applied Christianity can be a hellish religion.  But if we push aside the ugly weeds and look into the sidebars of history, and at the millions upon millions of “lesser” people who have preserved and spread the central theology of Christianity, and add those observations to the big events that have been Christ-driven, maybe we begin to understand the power of true Christianity a bit better.

Those Terrible, Uncaring Conservatives . . .

7 Jan

David Limbaugh, in his recent column titled “The Left’s Latest Mantra:  Income Inequality”, besides addressing the left’s unjustified claims to the high ground on income inequality, has this to say about the liberal world view in general.  I thought it was well stated.  The whole column can be read at

http://www.creators.com/opinion/david-limbaugh/the-lefts-latest-mantra-income-inequality.html

Excerpt:  [Emphasis is mine]

Whether or not liberals are able to process the reality that their programs have failed, they will not abandon them, because class warfare and government dependency programs are their ticket to power. CNN’s Candy Crowley unwittingly admitted as much when she asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker why any unemployed American or minimum wage worker would become a Republican.

It’s not that conservatives don’t care about the poor. It’s that we do care about the poor — and everyone else. We believe that our free market solutions generate economic growth, stimulate upward mobility and improve the economic lives of far more people, including the poor and middle class, than any other system. History vindicates us.

The left will always win the “look at how much I care about you” contest. But it loses in the “actually caring” department because at some point, people have to be presumed to have intended the damaging results their policies have consistently caused.

[End of excerpt]

Atheism and Christianity Compared — One View

4 Jan

I have seen two or three blog-posts recently that try to either reconcile or differentiate the ethical and moral beliefs of atheists and Christians.  I think this is because atheists are making louder noises about their desire to not be bothered by religion.  Recognizing the right of people to choose atheism over theism, and having come into Christianity from a position of agnosticism (fence-sitting) myself, I would like to present my own view of the implications of growing atheism in this country and abroad.

It may well be that a current-day atheist has a moral value system that approximates that of a Christian (or exceeds that of a Christian, depending upon how low you set the bar in order to qualify someone as a Christian).  However, it seems to me that the logical conclusion a society reaches as it  slides into an atheistic philosophy is a realization that nothing matters.  Nothing.

With no directed purpose to civilization, with our lives being perceived as less than a nanosecond in a sea of meaningless time and eternal nothingness, what is the motivation to even stay alive, much less to help others stay alive – simply fear of the inevitable personal annihilation/nothingness?  Do we not see this creeping syndrome in the abortion statistics already?  The only thing that would hold an atheistic civilization together would be the need to hang together in a cooperative manner to survive.

Murder, for example, would not be a moral dilemma, but rather a practical decision – does this person being considered for murder add value to society, or not?  If not, why not just terminate him/her?  It’s not like (s)he is preparing for anything.  We have seen the extinction of millions upon millions of humans throughout history for expediency, have seen it on a grand scale even within the last century, and still see it today – the powerful who have no sense of the sanctity of human life viciously prey upon the weak without hesitation.

Without a divine purpose and related moral law, there is nothing.  Who cares if you make someone else’s life easier or harder, when neither your life nor theirs has any lasting importance?  Why do we search for cures to illnesses, when life is without purpose, and has no value within a value system founded outside and above our selves?  Letting a sick person die leaves more resources for others.  Likewise, when a person ceases to be productive by getting too old, or becoming disabled, why not simply kill them and preserve resources for others (as has happened in many societies throughout history, especially with slaves)?  If we don’t want a higher population, or don’t want as many girls, or as many boys, just kill the fetuses/babies, for within nature they are no more important than ants, to be snuffed out at will.

Even if there really was no God, atheists should hope beyond hope that moral and ethical foundations always exist that are based upon belief in a divine being who cares about people and outcomes here on earth, and encourages people to look beyond the here and now.  The alternative is much worse than the implication of government death panels under Obamacare – and much, much worse than the simple inconvenience of having to be exposed to someone’s religious beliefs.

Lucky for them (and for all of us, of course), atheists today are surrounded by such moral and ethical religious foundations in most countries – to one extent or another.  In America, atheists should not only be thankful for religion that affirms the sanctity of life and gives eternal purpose to life (and thus to us poor humans) but thankful for a Constitution that protects their right to believe and express whatever they want to about God and religion.  A marvel, really, when we consider that the founders were overwhelmingly believers in God.

C.S. Lewis on Jesus and Progress

4 Jan

In a recent column offered by Chuck Norris, titled “The Case for Christmas (Part 2)”, Chuck highlights some thoughts from C.S. Lewis that I like and wish to share.  Below is an excerpt from that column.  The full column is at http://www.creators.com/opinion/chuck-norris/the-case-for-christmas-part-2.html

Excerpt:

It’s no surprise that C.S. Lewis — the great Oxford scholar, writer of the “Chronicles of Narnia” series and one who was also once an avid atheist — wrote in his timeless classic “Mere Christianity”: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

And for those who think religious belief is obsolete in our modern era, Lewis also had a good word and reminder: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

[End of excerpt]

I especially like the reference to what being a “progressive” really means.  In a more literal sense than we most often use the term, a progressive is not (or should not be) a person who favors change, but rather a person who favors change toward a better, or more noble, or more moral outcome.  In this sense, I suspect every one of us, liberal or conservative, would like to think of himself as a progressive.

Push Back Against Moral Relativism

27 Dec

From a recent blog post by Enza Ferreri:

[Start excerpt]

I conclude with Matt Barber, who writes in WND’s article “America’s chief export: Immorality”:

Indeed, under this president, America’s chief export has become immorality. Sexual deviancy, murder of the unborn, redistribution of wealth and other evils have been sanitized and propagandized as “basic human rights.”

Thus, when this arrogant man stands before the U.N. and decries those nations that refuse to embrace his special brand of pagan relativism, we shouldn’t be surprised if those nations push back.

And so they push back…

For instance, there has been, of late, great weeping and gnashing of teeth among mainstream media – and other circles of intolerant “tolerance” – over successful efforts by several foreign governments to stem the tide of “LGBT” propaganda within their own sovereign borders.

Russia, India, Croatia, Peru, Jamaica and even Australia, for instance, along with other nations, are now moving to inoculate themselves from the fast-metastasizing cancer of sexual relativism.

Having witnessed, from afar, the poisonous results of such propaganda here in the U.S. (the hyper-sexualization of children, the deconstruction of natural marriage and family, the rampant spread of sexually transmitted disease, religious persecution and the like), there seems an emerging global recognition that the radical “LGBT” agenda – a pet cause of Obama’s – is not about securing “human rights,” but, rather, is about promulgating moral wrongs.

The world is finding that forcing others to “tolerate” – indeed, to celebrate – unfettered licentiousness, under penalty of law, is as harmful to society as is said licentiousness to those who practice it…

While America may be lost (though I pray not), it would seem that her traditional values – values still shared by many, if not most, of the American people – are, nonetheless, gaining momentum abroad.

And that is encouraging.

Now let’s pray those values come full circle.

[End of excerpt]

Read more: http://enzaferreri.blogspot.com/2013/12/for-sexual-relativism-tide-is-turning.html#ixzz2oi4i8nDR
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