August 23, 2006
Letter to a friend
“How does a healthy person relate to God?”
We suppose theologians and psychiatrists and therapists might have profound insight and knowledge into how the human mind wrestles with, and comes to terms with ideas that can’t really be proved, in the scientific manner, anyway.
We are looking at the question through different eyes.
Firstly, to be human, by definition, is to be something other than God. That means that we cannot be expected to always understand God or His intent. By design, God may exclude or preclude us from ever ‘getting it.’
When we accept our ‘humaness,’ we are accepting our imperfections. As humans, we are not blessed with perfection. We are blessed with something far greater- free will. And, we are blessed with doubt.
Doubt is indeed a blessing, perhaps the greatest of God’s gifts to His Creation, because everytime we overcome that doubt and behave in a way that honors God, we have chosen to honor both Him and us. Only those that have experienced darkness can experience and appreciate light and the ability to see both the beauty and the dangers of our surroundings. In fact, if we do not acknowledge that darkness even exists, we can never see and appreciate the light.
We are supposed to struggle with faith and even tire of the struggle. It is the burden of that struggle that makes us whole and makes us complete. When we experience the doubt, the pain, and the despair of our search for God and meaning, we are not in violation of spirituality- just the opposite, really. When we are dealing with our doubts and pains, we begin to approach the final spirituality of acceptance.
The acceptance of ourselves, our limitations and insights, often comes after great pain and weeping. In a way, that weeping is a kind of window into wisdom- we are able to see ourselves for who we are and where we belong. These are cathartic moments, rare in life.
We can choose to submit and refer to the pain and the struggle as an ‘affliction of love,’ and thus hide the true nature of the pain and doubt, or, we can accept the pain and doubt for what they really are- adversaries that we must struggle with and overcome. We are given an opportunity to conquer, every day.
Spirituality is not spectacular. In fact it is mundane for the most part. John Paul II was not an imperious pope, but rather, an everyman with a past, who showed us what was possible. Therein was his greatness. He never said, “Look at me, in my robes of glory!” He never said, “Follow me and I will show you the way!”
Instead, he said to the tens of thousands that came to worship with him, “I love you, too!” as they loudly professed their affection. He was with them and of them. He always reminded them that God loved them, but in the end, it was his identification with his flock that made him so beloved. He was one of them. He was of course, in good company. History has shown that God has chosen rather mundane and very ordinary people to speak on his behalf- and being rather mundane and ordinary, many were rather unenthused with the prospect- not because they doubted God, but rather, they doubted their own worthiness. Why? Because we are human beings and not spiritual beings. We are meant to struggle ideas and concepts that cannot be corralled by mere words.
In our humaness, we are clothed with finite attire- we cannot divine the mind of God. When we demand absolutely certain truth, we are attempting to play God. We may believe that there are absolute truths, but in fact, we are bound by our understanding at the moment. Scientific truths alter as our undersatnding alters.
If we presume we can understand the ‘absolute truth’ about God, we are destined to fail in our desire to know God and to accept God as God. The ‘absolute truth’ about God changes as we come to understand ourselves, our world and even others.
That ‘absolute truth’ can never be corralled or understood because only God is ‘absolute.’ As humans, we are the opposite of absolute. We can be ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ we can be ‘more’ or ‘less.’ For us to exist as God’s creations, we must know joy and we must know suffering. We need to succeed and we also need to fail. We are meant to be less than perfect, because it is through our imperfections that we find ourselves and our potential.
God treasures our spiritual achievements. He treasures our failures along the way even more, because in facing and overcoming our failures, we have shown that we are indeed worthy of the humanity He bestowed upon us. We are not meant to become perfect in our struggle and search for meaning and faith- we are meant to overcome the limitations, imperfections and obstacles along the way.
Relating to God is about relating to that most human side of ourselves.
August 23, 2006
There is Sanity Squad brilliance and then there is another kind of brilliance.
ST. PETERSBURG A reclusive Russian who was honored with the mathematical world’s highest award for solving a problem that has stumped some of the discipline’s greatest minds for a century has rejected the award.
The mathematician, Grigory Perelman, refused to accept the prestigious Fields Medal and said Tuesday that he would explain himself “in several months.”
“I will not tell you anything; I refuse to give interviews,” Perelman said by telephone from an apartment in St. Petersburg that he reportedly shares with his mother just outside the city. “I will not even tell you why I’m refusing to speak about the prize. Call me in several months.”
The Fields Medal, which has often been described as the mathematics’ equivalent to the Nobel Prize, is given every four years.
Perelman is known not only for his work on the Poincaré conjecture – among the most heralded unsolved math problems – but also because he has declined previous mathematical prizes and has turned down job offers from Princeton, Stanford and other universities.
He has said that he wants no part of the $1 million that the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has offered for the first published proof of the conjecture.
Beginning in 2002, Perelman, who was then at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, published a series of papers on the Internet and gave lectures at several U.S. universities describing how he had overcome a roadblock in the proof of the Poincaré conjecture.
The conjecture, devised by Henri Poincaré in 1904, essentially says that the only shape that does not have any holes and fits within a finite space is a sphere.
That is certainly true looking at two- dimensional surfaces in the everyday three-dimensional world, but the conjecture says the same is true for three- dimensional surfaces embedded in four dimensions.
Perelman solved a difficult problem that other mathematicians had encountered when trying to prove the conjecture by using a technique called Ricci flow that smoothes out bumps in a surface and transforms the surfaces into simpler forms.
The medal was conceived by John Charles Fields, a Canadian mathematician, “in recognition of work already done and as an encouragement for further achievements on the part of the recipient.”
Since 1936, when the medal was first awarded, judges have interpreted the terms of Fields’s trust fund to mean that the award should usually be limited to mathematicians 40 or younger. Perelman is 40.
Perelman, who keeps a low profile, said Tuesday that he had “spent the day watching television.”
August 23, 2006
August 23, 2006
One of the lesser touted benefits of blogging is that often times, other bloggers read what you have written and ‘connect the dots’ with other thoughts and ideas that clarify and even amplify what it was you wanted to say- a kind of ‘neural networking.’ In the process, your idea becomes more refined, sublime and nuanced, and more often than not, your own understanding of the issues becomes more profound. Without a doubt, other bloggers need other bloggers and all bloggers need reader input.
Today, it is Fausta that has ‘connected the dots,’ picking up on an earlier post.
Her post today, Children And Salvation, is a well written, thoughtful and insightful look into parenting and childhood today.
She looks at the thoughts and posts of some of the smartest bloggers out there- Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped, Neo, Gagad Bob and The Anchoress, among others, and manages to find and connect ideas and thoughts into a coherent and cogent look at a few realities in the hurricane-like mayhem that is culture today. These are no small matters of passing interest or curiosity. As Fausta notes,
…every day millions of parents around the world work three jobs to send their kids to good schools, mortgage their houses to meet college tuition fees, donate blood and kidneys and blood marrow so their children can survive, stay awake at night taking care of sick kids, and do the millions of tasks that parents willingly do…
That said, Fausta notes a huge disparity.
There’s the acceptance in the Western World, in the name of multiculturalism and who knows what else, of societies that indulge into what for most of us is inherently revolting, aberrant degeneracy: the weaponization of children. Children suicide bombers, children witnessing public acts of unspeakable barbarity, children used as shields during gun battles, and the corpses of handicapped children used as (warning: graphic images) death porn in a propaganda war.
This is the world we are leaving to our children. At what point do we make and take a stand?
Fausta’s post is a must read- and more importantly, a ‘must discuss’, at home, with friends and even perfect strangers. If we cannot be bothered to to have the discussion, we may well be forfeiting our future- and the future of the generations to follow.
August 23, 2006
The ‘reality based community’ has been having a lot of trouble dealing with reality, such as it is. In response, the Daily Kos community have decided to rewrite reality and history, to better fit their agendas and delusions.
The response has been dkospedia, a effort that is at times a fair presentation and at other times, nothing more than a blatant propoganda effort, attempting to pass itself off a kind of leftist ‘scholarship.’
The main page notes
Welcome to the dKosopedia, a collaborative project of the DailyKos community to build a political encyclopedia. The dKosopedia is written from a left/progressive/liberal/Democratic point of view while also attempting to fairly acknowledge the other side’s take.
Here are a few examples of ‘differing points of view’ and ‘fair acknowledgement of the other side.’
In the dKospedia entry for George W Bush, there is a catagory of ‘Miscellaneous Facts that in some measure is clearly insulting and includes reference to ‘Most idiotic statements.’
The biographical data presented is insulting, deceitful and insinuates all kinds of ugliness. The entry even lists derogatory nicknames. Baseless accusations, deliberate lies and a pattern of deceit are clearly evident in the entry.
The entry for Islam is equally misleading, assigning to the Quran a superior status to the Bible (in particular, the original Five Books of Moses). Despite the entry’s notation that the Quran is ‘the word of God,’ commonly known scholarship indicates that there are at least 4 differing versions of the Quran (It bears noting that there are no differing version of the Five Books of Moses).
The entry on Israel notes the following:
The Israeli economy depends on 4 sources of revenue: foreign aid from the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, tourism, exports of citrus fruit and cut flowers, and arms sales
The impression is that the Israeli could not sustain itself without American and other foreign aid. Of course, that is absurd. US aid to Israel has actually been decereasing since 1998 (actual economic info can be found here and here). Of the German restitution paid out, approximately 25% went to Israeli individuals or the State of Israel. The other 75% were paid to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust outside of Israel.) and
The dKospedia entry makes no mention of the Israeli manufacturing economy that is larger than that of the entire combined Arab world and no mention that after the US and Canada, Israel ranks third in the number of companies listed on NASDAQ.
An article on ‘Conservatives,’ Every Man For Himself, make these remakably absurd observations, to used a ‘guide’ in how to respond to conservative arguments:
Use this frame in all your postings. Point out whereever conservative arguments are consistent with “every man for himself”. This includes a lot of conservative viewpoints: individual freedom, anti-tax, anti-welfare, “pulled up by his own bootstraps”, gun-carry laws, etc.
The idea here is to point out that conservatives have a strong streak of independence in their positions, and that independence is at odds with civilized society [emp-SC&A]. Civilization is actually a cooperative effort, where people agree to do things together for the benefit of all. “Every man for himself” points out the inherent selfishness and self-centeredness of the conservative position.
Points to make:
- Conservatives blame people for their own problems.
- Conservatives don’t want to accept responsibility for social problems.
- Conservatives prefer to think of themselves as independent and noble.
- Many conservative viewpoints come down to the strength of the individual.
- Many people need help to deal with real problems in their lives.
- Every man for himself is basically anti-social.
- Every man for himself is basically selfish and self-centered.
If you are unclear on what ‘conservatism’ or capitalism really means, see this.
dKospedia doesn’t fall far from the tree of KosKrap.