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Love & Freedom

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My church group is studying “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller.  This week’s chapter was on the perception that Christianity is a “straitjacket” that compromises our freedom.  Keller’s conclusion is excellent:

“What then is the moral-spiritual reality we must acknowledge to thrive?  What is the environment that liberates us if we confine ourselves to it, like water liberates the fish?  Love.  Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all.

“One of the principles of love – either love for a friend or romantic love – is that you have to lose independence to attain greater intimacy.  If you want the “freedoms” of love – the fulfillment, security, sense of worth that it brings – you must limit your freedom in many ways.  You cannot enter a deep relationship and still make unilateral decisions or allow your friend or lover no say in how you live your life.  To experience the joy and freedom of love, you must give up your personal autonomy.  [...]

“A love relationship limits your personal options.  Again we are confronted with the complexity of the concept of “freedom.”  Human beings are most free and alive in relationships of love.  We only become ourselves in love, and yet healthy love relationships involve mutual, unselfish service, a mutual loss of independence.  C.S. Lewis puts it eloquently:

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I’ve begun reading Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God at the recommendation of a pastor friend of mine.  The following excerpt from the introduction describes exactly the viewpoint I’ve come to consider to be profoundly important for our society.  I honestly believe that the failure to take this approach in forming one’s beliefs is one of the greatest problems facing Americans today.  It affects how we interact with and respect one another, and how we determine those beliefs upon which our worldview is based.

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.

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Tonight at the Bible study I attend, the issue of abortion came up.  Our brief discussion inspired me to expand upon some points I made in a post a year ago, which led to a valuable exchange with some friends in the comments: read it here.

I won’t reiterate that entire post, but our conversation tonight reinforced my opinion that the pulpit really isn’t the right place to address this topic.  The moment the church starts making a religious issue out of abortion, we’ve conceded the idea that it is a judgment call that’s determined by personal beliefs.  If being pro-life garners its mandate from a religious movement, its adoption will be largely limited to that sphere.  This approach often leads to debating abortion on an emotional level with women who either wish to assert their feminine rights, or defend their decision in light of the motherly hardships they’d have to endure without the presence of a committed husband/father.  While I feel for the women in these situations, debating the issue in this way is completely beside the point and, again, implies that it is still a personal judgment call.

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I was perusing last.fm and noticed a recommended Rush music video. I’m not sure if it was officially commissioned, but it was made by some guy named Bobby who’s obviously talented:

I must give the guy major props not only for the slick production, but also the impressive research that went into making those trees.  Would make a cool wallpaper if he’d publish the graphics he used.  Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I wanted to write some thoughts on the content of the video.  Whether or not it got Rush’s blessing (wouldn’t surprise me if it did…the band and especially lyricist Neil Peart are openly agnostic/atheist), the content is definitely provocative and worthy of a response.

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Good & Evil

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As I was perusing the movies and shows available for instant viewing on Netflix, I noticed that the second season of Showtime’s serial-killer drama Dexter had been added.  I’d seen the first season and a few episodes of the second with one of my roommates in college, but hadn’t finished it.  So I’d been catching up over the last week and ended up spending the better part of my day off today finishing them.

Ok, I also got a haircut, signed an apartment lease, crashed a sale on cleaning supplies at Ace hardware (thanks to a tip from my current roommate), and cooked an egg with onions and mushrooms with my new Calphalon One Infused Anodized frying pan (factory second on sale at the outlet store) and one of the ridiculously sharp knives in the J.A. Henckels set I just received from Amazon (also on sale).  And started putting together the website for my video production hobby/business.  So my day wasn’t completely spent vegging out in front of my computer screen.

But the reason for this blog post is in fact the show Dexter, and the last line from the awesome season 2 finale.  Dexter, an emotionally-deprived police blood splatter expert with a traumatic past who moonlights as a serial criminal-killer, spends a lot of time trying to figure out who he is and whether he is good or evil.  His conclusion at the end of the final episode?  “Am I evil?  Am I good?  I’m done asking those questions.  I don’t have the answers.  Does anyone?”

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