What would I want to tell those I care about?

I just finished Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life.  I found it extremely insightful, provoking, even inspirational.  He ended the book by writing his thoughts on various problems and people in his life.  One of the overarching principles of the book is to tell the truth or at least don’t lie.  I began thinking about what I wanted to say to many people whom I care deeply about (including myself).  A lot of times we don’t tell people what we need to because perhaps we are afraid it will offend them.  So without further ado, I present to you a little truth-telling, things that I think it’s important for those I care about to know.

Truth

Truth is utterly important; you need to investigate truth in every area of life. Truth cannot just be felt but must be investigated.  This is because 90% truth can be mixed with 10% lie which will lead to building your house on sand.  Many people, instead of seeking truth, seek acceptance from peers.  This is a major trap.

Forgive your Parents

Forgive your father and mother for their faults.  That forgiveness will bring healing to your soul just as it will towards their souls.  Your parents are always your parents, no matter how much they fail.  Not forgiving them will scar your own life more than pay them back for whatever they may have done to you.  Forgiveness does not mean letting someone hurt you repeatedly, having no boundaries, or being naive.  It means not paying that person back for their sins, letting go of your need for that.  Don’t let anyone or anything poison your relationship with your family.

Uncomfortable Relationships

Move towards uncomfortable relationships, even with people that you might not normally befriend. So many of us live in relational enclaves, echo chambers, surrounding ourselves with only those people who never challenge us to think or live differently.  Granted, we can’t be very deep friends with people we have nothing in common with, but there are people who hold different viewpoints than us who still have a lot in common with us.

Friendships

Know who your real friends are. Many people who you think are your friends are really not.  The moment your attractiveness fades and trouble rears its head in your life, many of these people will abandon ship. Figure out who the real friends are and spend time with them.

Anxiety of Others

Don’t let other people’s anxiety and controlling tendencies get to you.  You don’t have to take that on or try to fix them.  Don’t let others’ anxiety smother you.  Make sure to make room for some self-care, solitude, and other disciplines that bring you nearer to God and yourself when around them.  

Marriage

Continue to strive to work on yourself and your marriage.  Don’t give into the lie that marriage can be easy as pie.  It’s a sacrificial endeavor where we have to die to ourselves, but that brings new life.  Marriage is for others, not just yourself.  Hold your spouse accountable while still finding your true life and value in God.  Communicate clearly and apologize when you blow it.

Investigate Jesus

Investigate Jesus more.  He’s more than a spiritual teacher.  He’s more than one guide among many.  He is THE guide whom all the other guides, when they were speaking rightly, were ultimately pointing to.  He is the the TRUE life, the way, the truth, the resurrection, the living water.  He doesn’t exclude you or others but always lovingly invites you to come to him.  And don’t you think it’s peculiar that there is so much evidence for his life, death, and even resurrection?  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then it’s time to investigate.

Find your Life

Seek to find your life in God.  Many of us say we believe in God, Christianity and so on, but we don’t have much of an actual relationship with God.  When you begin to truly experience his love, that will begin to transform you into an increasingly loving person, the person you know you were made to be.

Life in God isn’t formulaic

Don’t get too hung up on some kind of formula in your relationship with God.  Prayer, and Scripture reading are key, but there is also meditation on Scripture, listening for his voice, solitude, silence and being out in nature.  Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympian and missionary, used to feel God’s pleasure when he was running.  I feel it when I do jiu-jitsu, when I get to speak, or when I write.  Maybe you feel it when you are engaging in something you were called to do.

Work on yourself before society

Work on yourself before you work on society.  I haven’t always been the best example of this.  But how are we going to change others if we ourselves are not a good example?  We can’t go out there on a crusade to change everything in society unless we are living out a better version of what it is we critique.

Narrow your focus

Narrow your focus.  If you are interested in lots of stuff, being excellent demands that you hone in and focus on a few of those areas.  Personally, I’ve struggled with this.  It takes self-knowledge to figure out what we should focus on.  Every choice to cultivate one thing means not doing other things.  Be willing to make a choice and go for it, even when that closes you off to other possibilities.  Further, God will be with you and use you in any number of areas, not just “religious” vocations.

Trust, don’t freak out

Remember to trust the Lord, especially if you are an anxious person.  God is probably putting you in places that show you clearly that you have less control than you thought.  That’s ok.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Now to practice what I preach.  Shalom.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

 

 

Blaise Pascal’s three ways to know truth from bullshit

Tradition, reason, and experience.  Whether we know it or not, these three ways lead us to our creeds.  Some believe out of tradition, simply following what their ancestors taught.  Others believe because of reason, investigating arguments that lead them to rational conclusions.  Others believe out of existential experience, finding more poetic and inspirational ways to knowledge.  Whether one’s position is secular or religious, these three ways guide our footsteps.

Many of us are skeptical of tradition.  We recognize that tradition is not always a safe method of finding the truth.  But we ought not be overconfident about that.  G.K. Chesterton once called tradition the “democracy of the dead.”  It ought to have some staying power because it represents the votes of our forebears.  For this reason, I’m unwilling to throw out all tradition.  In fact, we need tradition, and if we don’t follow our family’s tradition we will simply look for some other tradition to link up with.  Many traditions in our modern milieu can look utterly non-religious.  They may take the form of a club, a sport, a philosophy, let alone a religion. Traditions usually have some form of repetitive rituals that give meaning to a community.  Traditions also may include Scripture, the notion that a higher order of intelligence, such as God or the gods, has revealed certain things to be true. Scripture has advantages if true because it allows humans to access something beyond the normal realm of human investigation.  At the same time, it seems to me that any claim of Scripture should be open to verification or falsification. In our secular culture, we often experience the cross-pressures of many different traditions. There may be political, religious, and social traditions, pulling us in different directions.  Tradition provides a pattern of life we can conform to that may have more wisdom than anything we can come up with on our own.

Reason has been trumpeted by the new atheists as the ultimate arbiter of truth.  I actually, though not an atheist, partially agree with them on this statement. Without reason, belief claims appear vapid and void of all substance. Just like in Orwell’s novel 1984, 2+2 could then equal five.  Yet there is still a problem with a naive faith in reason; if our character is distorted, that will influence how we interpret the facts and evidence.  Since people are so easily swayed by emotions, traditions, pop-culture, moral practices, and personal psychology, these will affect our reasoning processes.  In other words, reason will always be limited by the character of the reasoner.  At the same time, the tradition and existential experience have no basis without reason.  We must be have strong evidence to support our beliefs.

Existential experience is a powerful pull for people today. Many, if not most in Western culture, are what sociologists have termed “expressive individualists.” Philosopher James Smith defines this as the tendency to see life as something that we each individually need to realize for ourselves. We believe that we are called to express that way of life rather than conform it to models given to us or imposed by others. The goal of life is therefore authenticity rather than living out a tradition or a reasonable point of view. A quick glance at our fascination with actors and musicians will verify our commitment to the expressive way of life. Many also look to the pragmatic to determine truth, to what works versus what doesn’t work.  The expressive individualists have a point in all this. We ought to seek know ourselves, and this is an intensely personal and individual quest. But at what cost do we express ourselves when the facts and external reality are at odds with us? This is where tradition and reason can help sort out our true-selves from our muddled false-selves. Harry Frankfurt points out in his masterful book, On Bullshit, that it is impossible to be authentic unless there is a truth about ourselves that we can be authentic about. And generally speaking, reason and tradition help experience find that truth.

The philosopher and inventor Blaise Pascal once pointed out that every religion has tradition and experience. But no religion but Christianity has reason. That’s a very strong claim. And Pascal’s statement applies not just to religions but also non-religious views of the world. Now, I can’t begin to defend this claim as a whole in this article.  That would take an entire book.  But let’s look at the claim briefly. Did you realize that we have very little historical access to most religious claims? Most religions are set so far into the past that historians cannot access them, and most do not depend on historical facts being true anyways. The great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam do have much overlap with history, however. This adds a huge evidential component. The claims can be investigated.  Along with history, we also have to ask whether a religion or a philosophy is coherent or not. Without naming names, I’ll just put out there that many religions and philosophies, while containing beauty and even promoting goodness, are incoherent. They make claims that are self-refuting or logic denying.  Pascal claims that only Christianity can truly pass the test of reason. The only way to find out if that’s true would be to investigate it for yourself.  Maybe you’ll come up with different conclusions.

In the pursuit of truth, tradition, reason, and experience each play a crucial role.  Might it be that some have only used one or two of these means of discovery when all three can shed light on the truth? Truth ultimately is the most beautiful thing we can find, even when it may bring pain and loss.  Discovering truth is much like what St. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians.  “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).  If that or something much like that is true, who wouldn’t want to know it?

 

Mexico elects Marxist President, what does it mean for America? — WINTERY KNIGHT

Wintery Knight is always savvy; he is quite right in this case.  Socialism, far from being progressive, is a regressive and illiberal course of action which will only lead to more problems for our neighbors.  Rather than casting stones, let’s get our own house in order.

Mexico has held an election, and they decided to elect someone with the policies of Hugo Chavez (Venezuela). His name is Andrés Manuel López Obrador. What does it mean for America? It means we need to build a wall on our Southern border, and quickly, too. There were a couple of great articles about the […]

via Mexico elects Marxist President, what does it mean for America? — WINTERY KNIGHT