foolishness

This year, Resurrection Day falls on April “Fools Day”.  How fitting… Only a fool would believe in something like Resurrection, right?

Well… yes.  One of the more unpopular and counter-cultural aspects of Christian faith is its ‘foolishness’.  The Lord of all existence, meaning and being chooses not to select the best, the smartest, the most moral, the most successful, the strongest, the most desirable, to work through.  No.  In God’s economy, what society tells us are our assets are so often (if we hold them with pride) our liabilities.

Sure, in one sense, it is ‘foolish’ to deny the possibility of a thing like Resurrection.  How ‘unscientific’ is the emotion of disgust that poisons the well of honest and patient consideration of just what might be possible in this mysterious existence.

But the label ‘fool’ will inevitably be found on the backs of those believing in the impossible; that the days of Death are numbered, that another level of Life has emerged, undying, from the Tomb.  So be it.  I’m a fool.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 1:18-29

tween fashion

TVNZ’s programme ‘Sunday’ included a segment related to concerns over tween (8-12 yrs) fashion, particularly the issue of girls dressing “too sexy too soon” (which was the title).

In addition to this being evidence that modesty is not just the concern of conservative Christians, I was also interested in the introductory comment about the struggle of parents “to keep them children for as long as possible”.  I’ve often wondered about the tension between biological adulthood and ‘adulthood’ as defined by mod-western culture.

Perhaps rather than trying to ‘keep them children’, we should be helping them to both ‘be’ and ‘behave’ as adults.  Que the ‘archaic’, ‘religious’ – and perhaps more relevant than we dare admit – practice of most ancient cultures, namely rites of passage which welcomed new adults into adult life and responsibilities.

two water related parables

We need the healthy idealism reflected in the parable of the starfish.  One single act has value even in a sea (or in this case, beach) of hopelessness.

But we also need the wisdom reflected in the parable of the river.  We must not fight the problem, but find the source of the problem.  (Reminds me of the Dom Helder Camara quote: “I feed the poor, I’m called a saint.  I ask why the poor have no food, I’m called a communist.”)

reading

Proverbs 22:7 – “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

A friend recently (and wisely) observed that this is unfortunately ‘heard’/’taken’ as a command rather than as a lamentation.  Which made me think about how much interpretation we can do even with simple sentences.  The above verse could be (mis)understood in the following senses:

  • That this is the way things are intended to be: ‘God wants the rich to rule over the poor and delights in the borrower being a slave to the lender.’
  • A cold, apathetic, uncaring, indifferent (‘scientific’), and descriptive observation: ‘The rich have more power than (and often power ‘over’) the poor, and the borrower is indebted to the lender.’
  • An implicit command: ‘Don’t be poor!  Don’t be ruled by the rich!  Don’t borrow money! Ever!  It’s is wrong!’
  • A lament with an appeal to listen and live life accordingly: “Money quickly becomes a thing that is used to control and enslave people.  Large gaps between the rich and poor and large debts are all too real.  Please listen to this, and avoid doing that to others or yourself!’

animal

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, humans are more than animals, but not less.

I used to (like too many Christians) be ‘nervous’ about comparing humans to animals, or being told about (for example) chimps that can count, etc (whether they are actually ‘counting’ [comprehending a numbered sequence] or not [responding as trained to images on screen with no concept of a numbered sequence] is an interesting question). I now see this as odd, as if animal superiority in a particular area (speed, strength, size?) makes humans any less able (as Jews/Muslims/Christians hold) to be God’s unique image-bearing creatures. Continue reading “animal”

teleology & ethics

The word ‘teleology’ (from Greek τελος ‘telos’ – meaning ‘goal’, ‘end’, ‘purpose’ or ‘that toward which things tend’) is not a street-level term.  However, the concept of a purpose, goal, function or ‘end’ to things most certainly is.  It’s a common as anything.  Teleology is blindingly relevant.

Continue reading “teleology & ethics”

the power and fragility of the imagination

The effects and pervasiveness advertising is a good example of both the power and fragility of the imagination.

We are (almost always subconciously!) actually affected by some hyper-loud voice telling us something in the ad-breaks of whatever TV show we’re watching or by some image we see on a billboard, in a magazine, etc., etc. ad infinitum…  That is how fragile our imaginations are.

And we act, behave, decide, spend-time/money, choose, etc. ‘out of’ our imagination.  We buy ‘this’ or ‘that’ product based (often) on nothing but our imaginitive affection for it…  That is how powerful our imaginations are.

This is a double edged sword.  Great strides in medicine, architecture, physics, art, education, etc., etc. have been made because someone ‘imagined’ a different way.  Also great pain has been caused in marriages, families, communities and nations because one or more people ‘imagined’ that that woman, experience, possession, ideology or whatever would be desirable, fun, cool or powerful.

Take an affair for example.  They don’t just ‘happen’.  A man/woman must first enjoy the company of someone other than their spouse.  Imaginitive step after imaginitive step are taken.  And boom – there you have it – an affair.

This appreciation of (and respect for) the power and fragility of the imagination is what should drive all concerns about things like pornography, boobs-on-bikes parades and modesty, etc., etc.  Sooooo often, they are often driven by what seems like an assumption that if we could just get the laws sorted out to how we think they should be, people will behave like we think they ought…

…leaving the power and fragility of the imagination (the heart of the issue) untouched, un-dealt-with, un-appreciated… and not solving any problems whatsoever.