Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pensee #11 (Blaise Pascal)

I've started reading through Pascal's Pensees and this is in the mood of my last couple blogs, so I thought I'd include it. I have no profound comments or insights about this excerpt. Anything I have to say about it would just cheapen it. This is Pensee #11, enjoy...

All great amusements are dangerous to the Christian life; but among all those which the world has invented there is none more to be feared than the theatre. It is a representation of the passions so natural and so delicate that it excites them and gives birth to them in our hearts, and, above all, to that of love, principally when it is represented as very chaste and virtuous. For the more innocent it appears to innocent souls, the more they are likely to be touched by it. Its violence pleases our self-love, which immediately forms a desire to produce the same effects which are seen so well represented; and, at the same time, we make ourselves a conscience founded on the propriety of the feelings which we see there, by which the fear of pure souls is removed, since they imagine that it cannot hurt their purity to love with a love which seems to them so reasonable.

So we depart from the theatre with our heart so filled with all the beauty and tenderness of love, the soul and the mind so persuaded of its innocence, that we are quite ready to receive its first impressions, or rather to seek an opportunity of awakening them in the heart of another, in order that we may receive the same pleasures and the same sacrifices which we have seen so well represented in the theatre.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What was I talkin' about?

The last blog entry I wrote was about love at first sight and whether it can actually exist. Well, I went back and read it again and it reads much like a melting slurpee. It has no form and it just seems like a slushy mess, so I'm writing this blog to, hopefully, clear some of it up.

What do I think of love? There are different types of loves, obviously, but only one word in the English language, so it becomes confusing to talk about. I'm talking about "romantic" love (or eros, or whatever you'd like to call it). In my mind there are two different aspects of this love. On the one hand there is the decision to love someone and then on the other there is the passionate emotion.

In the movies they often display love as complete passionate emotion. It's what they call the "spark", "chemistry", "lightning striking", "falling in love", etc... Movies very rarely show the other side, the decision to love or an aged love. In my last blog I was romantically speaking of love as if it were this mysterious and powerful force, but that's not the whole truth. I want to believe that there can be such a thing as an instant spark bewteen people, but that doesn't mean that is all I want or hope for from love. I look forward to a day when I'm an old man sitting beside a woman I've decided to spend my life with. This is a love that is very real and lasting.

It's hard to find good examples of love like this nowadays because so many people aren't willing to stick it out. They want happiness and fulfillment, but they fail to realize that the decision to love someone requires committment and hard work too (not just the fluffy stuff).

My last blog was about love at first sight and it's this type of love that I would associate with the passionate emotion of love. This isn't a mental decision, but rather a stirring of emotion. I realize this passion can develop in different ways and in varying amounts of time, but who's to say how much time it takes to develop? Is it not possible that this connection could form immediately? I'm not saying this is where it ends, but it may be a jump start to something better.

The connection I tried to make in my last entry between quality and love is this... We often talk about things as being beautiful or creative meaning they are of quality. However, when we try to say what properties make an object have quality, we can't. We know quality when we see it, but we can't define criteria for scientifically measuring quality. Often when we try to create this criteria, the rules end up eroding the quality itself (limiting the creativity in art or writing, as an example).

Love is the same. When you ask someone how they know their in love they say, "I don't know how, I just know." Love is something that is very hard to describe, but you somehow intuitively know when you're experiencing it. It's this ambiguity in defining love that makes it difficult to decide what is an appropriate time frame for "falling in love"... Is it 5 minutes, 10 minutes, half a day, a week, 3 years, a decade? What is enough time? There is no answer. It's a matter of when you decide to make a choice in your heart to love someone and follow it with every fiber of your being. I admire the person that has enough guts to make that decision at the instant they meet someone special.

I'll leave you with a line from the movie Moulin Rouge...

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. "

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What is Love?

I love this question (excuse the pun). Just to be clear I'm referring to romantic love. The type of love that most movies are about... the kind of love that seems to transcend space and time. It reaches beyond circumstance and overcomes overwhelming odds. Does this exist? I don't know if it does, but it seems like everyone is an expert on love even though it would seem very hard to give a solid definition (especially in English).

The question on my mind right now is if there is such a thing as "love at first sight"? When I was very young my answer would have been a resounding "YES"!!! However, as I grew older my answer changed to "there is such thing as lust at first sight, but not love at first sight". As I think about this question now, I don't know what my answer would be. I can tell you why I'm afraid to say there is such a thing and why I really hope there is such a thing both at the same time.

I'm no expert by any means, but here are my thoughts on this... Love is about vulnerability. It's about putting yourself "out there" without knowing if what you feel will be returned. Love is when two people recognize the quality in each other and act accordingly. It's a committment, a stirring of the heart, a clearing of the senses, and a loosening of rules all at once.

The magic is that two people recognize a quality in each other, but also know that the other has flaws. The flaws aren't ignored, but can be overlooked because of something that's bigger than the sum of its parts.

In a world where everthing is weighed and measured, it has become necessary to define quality, but it seems to be undefinable. Try to explain what quality is... It's a tough thing to define. We can't define it, but we know it when we see it. It makes people nervous to know that there are things which seem to have quality without being able to describe the quality of the thing itself. When talking about "love at first sight", you're talking about one person recognizing the quality in another before they really "know" each other. Scientifically speaking, "love at first sight" might sound absurd, but it isn't as crazy as it might seem.

Most people who are looking to fall in love aren't looking for a certain person per se, what they're looking for is a deep and meaningful connection. They want to share something with another person which will transcend space and time, something lasting. We sometimes refer to this undefinable instant connection as "chemistry". This "chemistry" represents some feeling of quality in human connection, yet it's undefinable itself. What is it to have chemistry with someone? I have no idea, but I know it when I experience it.

I can see why it may seem scary to believe in love at first sight. If you believe this, then you believe that somehow two people can see the quality in each other as soon their eyes meet. This is not an easy idea to swallow in a society so empirically based, but is it really that hard to believe? There is something mysterious and beautiful about this concept of "love at first sight". All at once I'm deathly afraid, yet over-joyed about the possible ramifications of this being a reality. This is something, whether it exists or not, I want to believe it's real! It fills me with a sense of wonder and makes me believe that there may still be some magic in this world.

I'd leave you with a quote, but all I can think of at the moment is Romeo and Juliet, and it seems too cheesy or unfitting at the moment. Maybe I'll come back and add something later.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Is There Still Room For Narratives?

Lately, I've been reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". It's a great book and it's given me some things to think about. While I was reading it last night I was reminded of how I used to really enjoy reading about the Evolution/Creation debate, but have somewhere lost the desire to keep learning about it. It's not that I don't think it's important anymore because it is important in my mind. I think I may have lost the desire to read about this debate because both sides of the debate are so eager to remove the "science" from any sort of story or narrative.

The Evolutionists are so serious about doing "science" that they have discarded any sort of art or creativity in the process. The Creationists are so concerned with proving that God created the universe that they explain away his majesty with scientific principles. I still subscribe to "Young Earth Creation Science", but I just wish both sides would allow for a bit of creativity and an understanding that we will never know exactly how things unfolded in the beginning. Do we have to sacrifice the narratives for science? Will we ever appreciate the "what" without knowing the "why" or the "how"?

I realize there is a sort of paradox in having a science that allows for narratives, but can it be possible? I realize that science tries to be objective and replicable, but it seems to me that science, no matter how hard we try, will always be somewhat subjective in nature. All fields of science are based on basic assumptions about the world and the universe.

There is a very special sense in which materialism has more restrictions than spiritualism. Mr. McCabe thinks me a slave because I am not allowed to believe in determinism. I think Mr. McCabe a slave because he is not allowed to believe in fairies. But if we examine the two vetoes we shall see that his is really much more of a pure veto than mine. The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle. Poor Mr. McCabe is not allowed to retain even the tiniest imp, though it might be hiding in a pimpernel.

~ G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fresh Water

Part of the reason I write this blog is to help me remember the things that leave me with a sense of awe, or invoke in me a sense of wonder. Nature and/or the environment has always been one of those things that has sparked a sense of wonder in me (and so it should, since it reflects the creator). I grew up in the West Kootenays in southern BC, where I was surrounded by mountains, forests, lakes, and lots of wildlife. I very much miss that environment now that I reside in southern Alberta (I'm not saying I don't like it here, it's just different).

One thing I really miss now is fresh water, and I've come to appreciate the intimate relationship between humankind and our water. The Bible contains lots of references to water or living waters. The people of the Bible understood that their well-being and survival depended greatly on having sources of water, so this was a meaningful metaphor for them. I think that we (Canadians/North Americans) sometimes take for granted the privilege we have of access to fresh clean water, and I wish we didn't (as a whole).

We've been talking about the water systems in Canada in my Geography class, so maybe that's what has sparked this, but it's scary to see what is happening to our waters. Fortunately, it's not too late for us to do something... but, I digress (for now).

Looking back, some of the moments of greatest clarity have been in the presence of water... whether it's watching the sunset over the ocean or fishing at a creek mouth or sitting in a hot spring, there is something soothing yet empowering about water.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Anger Management

I was reading some news articles this morning when I came across a headline which read something like "29 year old poses as 12 year old". I thought it sounded funny, but after reading it I felt sick almost to the point of vomitting. The article was about a 29 year old sex offender, Neil Rodreick, (alias Casey Price) attending a school as a 12 year old. This sex offender was living with other sex offenders as well. One posing as an uncle, one as a grandfather, and another as a cousin.

This guy had forged papers, shaved his body, and wore make-up to mask his age. He attended one school for 3 months before he got caught. How does this happen?

If you're wondering why I'm writing about this here, it's because after reading this I felt extremely angry and sick to my stomach. I'm a pretty patient and forgiving person, but when it comes to children being abused or mistreated, I lose it. I feel myself wishing these men were put to death immediately. The struggle for me is that all people can be redeemed through Jesus, but do people like this deserve to live a full lifetime (while doing harm to others) on the off chance that they will eventually feel remorse and seek redemption?

As a man who dreams of being a father one day, and plans to be a teacher, this story infuriates me. How are we supposed to protect every kid from things like this? It scares me that a 29 year old sex offender could attend a junior high for 3 months without being caught. I'm guessing that there were teachers who thought he looked to old, but were afraid to say it since it would scar him for life if he were actually 12 years old.

I know this is probably not the most righteous response, but if I had kids and some sexual deviate did harm to them, may God have mercy on that despicable person because I would not. I can't imagine being a parent who has had a child abused... Must be the most horrifying feeling in the world. I don't know if there is a point I'm trying to make, but I needed to get it off my chest because I'm overcome with anger right now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just A Man? ...Think Again

I have a fear that one day the Church will stand before God in bewilderment as He judges us for the wrongs we have done in His name. Jesus will say, "Forgive them Father because they didn't know what they were doing." The only problem is that we knew what we were doing, didn't we? Jesus died for us to save us from our ignorance and leave a mark in history to remind us of how far God's people can stray from the heart of God himself. We got so far from Him that we couldn't recognize His own son.

How Lucifer must have been full of excitement that day, as Jesus was being led to the cross by the very people who professed to be God's messengers on Earth. Lucifer must've been extremely proud, thinking he'd finally conquered the Almighty, as Jesus dangled lifelessly from what has become the most prominent symbol of the Christian faith...

But then something changed. It was as if the Earth skipped a beat and everyone in the world forgot to breath for a minute... The sky went dark and the Earth trembled with fear at a God who could sacrifice himself for creatures who were made in his image, but had since become a distorted perversion of what He had intended. The curtain ripped in half and Lucifer must've trembled with fear as God was released from his box within the Holy of Holies. The Earth had become such a sinful place that God was forced to take refuge within the Holy of Holies, separated from these people bearing His distorted image. He did this, not for His protection, but for ours. This man Jesus was more than just a man, He was a key sent to unlock God's cage and set Him free among His sinful creation.

With Jesus' death, the curtain was torn and God's power unleashed... The "holy" people would no longer twist the word's of God for their own uses. God would now walk among the people and they would be allowed direct contact with the Almighty Himself. Could there be a greater gift than this?

I'm not writing this because I think I'm "holier than thou" or because I've been given some divine wisdom that no one else has access to... No, I'm writing this as a plea to the Church to stop trying to force God back into the church we've created and let Him loose on the world. There are people in this world, doing great things, who are abandoned by the Church simply because of the way they talk and the way they dress.

Please remember, there once was a man who walked the Earth who was rejected by the "holy" people because of the radical things He said... But in his death the people were forced to listen... The Earth itself moaned in pain and shook with fear... The heavens went dark and the sky began to weep... Even the dead came back to life for His funeral... But we don't remember this man because of His funeral, we remember him because death itself couldn't cage Him. This was no ordinary man!