Exploring where life and story meet!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rare as hen's teeth

I have finally found a good book with a living author!  I don't have a lot of time to read, therefore I am highly covetous of those few moments I can actually sit down with the written word and will quickly put down anything that is not interesting, stimulating, and well-written.  If you like fairy tales (especially with a Christian undertone), I can highly recommend this book.  The writing is lyrical, the plot intriguing, the characters are charming, the world is beautiful, and even the poetry is passable, unlike Tolkien, you may actually want to read it!  It gets a little preachy at one point in the middle, but it is a brief scene and the book quickly moves on.  And it is free!  Find it at the link below:


Saturday, March 2, 2013

I don't think it is, therefore it is not?

I have always had a bit of trouble living in this modern world, as if I was born two centuries too late; somehow, I always envied the Amish, for they still believe in common sense.  Our world does not make sense, at least trying to live according to modern rules.  Perhaps that is why I am a lover of old books and classic stories; at least in the fairy tales there is order in the world.  It can be a strange and fantastic world but there are rules, direction, purpose, meaning, and common sense.  Is it I that am crazy, backwards, upside down, old fashioned?  No, the old stories are right, for it is the world that has gone mad.  Which is strange when you consider that we are a very 'scientific' culture and demand that the physical and natural world make sense, but have no qualms whatsoever that the moral and psychological realm is a breeding ground for entropy.  There are laws in science, in nature, in medicine, in mathematics, in everything it seems but human thought and behavior.  But if you study the old stories, you find that back when the world was flat, people actually had some idea of what was right and wrong, what you should and should not do to your fellow men.  Perhaps those flat-earthers have the right idea!

I heard a man speak the other day and he was comparing sin to leprosy, what leprosy is to the flesh so sin is to our souls (and our world!).  It was quite an apt metaphor, but the thought that struck me most was that ignoring sin is just as serious as ignoring such a horrid disease.  We have a cancer eating away at our souls and we just pretend it is not there!  Actually, we no longer pretend it is not there and that we are not personally afflicted with this malady; nay, we assume the disease does not exist at all.  Instead of trying to fix or cure the problem, we simply define it out of existence.  No sensible person does this with a crippling or lethal disease, but post-modernism and modern psychology have done a very good job of neutering our sense of right and wrong.  It is as if we blame our cancer on what our parents fed us as children...wait, there are those that do that too...sorry, bad metaphor, but you get the idea.  We do not have a sin problem, we have emotional issues from a troubled childhood, we have a mental disorder no one can pronounce, our genetics are messed up, we have a repressed memory troubling us, we have various coping mechanism to deal with this terrible world, our parents did something wrong in raising us, I did not attend the right college,...the list could go on forever.  This is not to say these issues do not cause problems or that certain people do not struggle terribly with these matters, but as a society we tend to rationalize every bad behavior, poor choice, and wicked thought.  But then, there really is nothing that is truly wrong so how could there even be such a thing as a poor choice?

There is right and there is wrong, yet the world insists it is all one vast shade of gray, open to personal interpretation.  In no other sphere of our existence do we assume one reality for person A and another for person B.  The sky is not red in my world but blue in yours.  How can it then be true for our morals and ethics?  We have a disease.  It has a name.  It has a cure.  Ignoring it, pretending it does not exist, rationalizing it away, making excuses, does not help it go away.  Such behavior will not cure cancer, neither will it make our hearts or the world a better place.  Many of the ancients (anyone writing before the internet) knew this to be true.  Our own hearts will tell us so, if we but listen (a pity the conscience cannot text).  Our world is messed up, it is a disaster, and we pretend it can be cured by science or technology or government.  The only thing that can cure it is curing each, individual human heart, ridding our souls of this cankerous lesion.  If each man loved his neighbor as himself, what would come of wars, crime, poverty, and the like?  We would still have disease, death, natural disaster and so forth, but what would happen to our civilization, our communities, our relationships?  The cure is not more schools, more prisons, more psychological drugs, and more government programs, but simply remembering that we have souls, that we are rational beings, and therefore we have moral responsibility for our actions which influence our lives and the lives around us.  Simply by being human, we are afflicted with this cancer called sin, yet there is a Surgeon willing to give us a hand in removing it from our souls.  Ignoring it won't make it go away, it only continues to poison our hearts and our world.  Authors like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens saw the problem and also the cure.  Some of their best writing contains a character, that for love's sake, acts against his own best interest, risking everything to do what is right rather than what is expedient or profitable.  Such is the heart of Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities; it is also what makes these works timeless, beloved, and essential reading for anyone interested in what it truly means to be human.

Science tells us we are monkeys: rational, hairless monkeys.  A world without morals and ethics fits this paradigm, for monkeys are not moral beings.  We have no souls, no conscience, no heart.  But that is just what makes us human!  Take away the soul and you are just a monkey.  Take away our ability to make ethical and rational decisions and you do the same.  I cannot believe a monkey ever wrote the two books mentioned above nor that after reading them you can think yourself just a senseless ape!  There are things in this world (and much beyond it) that are bigger, wilder, and more wonderful than we can even imagine, yet we would reduce ourselves to the level of the great apes and ignore those wondrous things to which we are called to aspire.  A monkey will ever be a monkey.  We are called to be greater than ourselves, to aspire to something beyond this poor mortal world, ridden with sin and death.  Take a banana or look to the Heavens! 

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 (nKJV)