Testing out mobileme

Well, I’m moving shop for 2 months. I have a new website built here, which is allowing a lot of things I can’t very easily do here, all in one place.

I may be back, depending on if I decide that mobileme is worth the hundred bucks a year.

Online Reading (August 20, 2009)

Culture: Beloit College publishes this year’s mindset list (things that have always been true for this year’s incoming freshmen)

Church: Lorne Gunther asks about the United Church and its purported interest in human rights.

Education: Apparently, in liberal Sweden, you can’t have children abstaining from state schools. They’re banning homeschooling.

Stats: According to the CBC, statscan is now telling Canadians to eat their veggies.

Loving a Cipher

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways (Psalm 119:15)

In my reading and experience in counselling, the saddest times are when people realize that what they had called love for someone else had been simply their need to love something, not really a love for the thing loved. In essence, the object of their love is nothing but a cipher; an empty vessel they can pour their affections into.

The result is that while they do nice things for the person, their expressions of love are based on what they themselves desire to give as love, not really what the other person would need to actually be loved. The result is that they then get frustrated when the other person doesn’t react to the love their showing… because all this time there wasn’t love of another person being shown, but the need to love……. something, anything. The other person wasn’t important.

This seems less selfish than at least the habit of humans to love the reflection of themselves in someone else, and hate whatever does not reflect them, but I’m not so sure. At least the “selfish” love actually reacts to something in the object of affection (if only because it reaffirms the lover).

I think this may also be part of what happens to Christians in some ways that they “love” God. C.S. Lewis hits on the point when he says:

“For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather expect the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find their heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand” (C.S. Lewis,”On the reading of Old Books” in God in the Dock, 205)

The reason for this difference is, I think, a simple one. In much devotional literature, there is an assumption that one has a close and real relationship with the God of the universe. However, we read devotional literature in the desire to actually strengthen that relationship, not because the relationship is already strong. Devotional literature often has trouble moving us to worship, because it so rarely moves us beyond the cipher-god of our own creation to a meditation on the real God. Heavy theology does just that, because it is only in the harder to understand ideas and revelations that our self-centered ideas of God and how He should be loved are questioned, and as a result where we can be moved to see God for who He really is.

The result of that vision for a heart renewed by the Holy Spirit, will always be worship.

Rebellion and Reformation

This evening as I was thinking on a number of things (expunging the residue from misfired thoughts from the last week), I began to think about the modern fascination with rebellion and opposition. Indeed, it has come to then point that even where we are seeking to affirm something good, we have begun to frame it in terms of opposing something that we feel is wrong. Human rights these days are affirmed, not in order to actually support something noble (human rights) but through the punishment of those we interpret as breaching these rights.

The Church has not been immune. For the most part, myself included, there has been a move to see what is “not working” in the Church, and to then fix it. Ironically it seems to be behind both the abortive “Emergent Church” movement, and the nascent Reformed resurgence. Both reacting to the vapidity of late 20th century western evangelicalism and charismaticism. While one claims a focus on “justice” and the other on “orthodoxy”, in practice, both seem to actually be based in not being what went before. In a sense, being rebellious.

Unfortunately, this phraseology has traction. After all, for most of my life I’ve been regaled with stories of the beneficial rebellion of the 60s, the civil rights movement, etc. Rebellion is cool.

The problem is that positive change doesn’t come primarily from opposition to evils (though that is a necessary side effect), but by clear focus and affirmation of truth. The benefits of any previous rebellion come not from the accidents of the heroic opposition to what is against the truth. Admittedly, we sing the songs and tell the stories of those who stood against evil, but the real benefit, the real work, is done by those who are grasped by the truth and then work to re-form what is destroyed by rebellion around that truth. Such is the case personally, as my life is re-formed around Christ, and it is true for the Church as well. What we need are people who are technically conservative of what is most necessary. They conserve the truth, and expunge lies based on it.

The Church does not need more people pointing out the flaws. We need people pointing to the truth (namely, Jesus Christ). Thus what I pray for is not rebels who rebel against culture, or against low expectations, or injustice, but reformers who, like Luther, will be “captive to the Word of God”.