God and Tsunamis

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David Hart, in the Wall Street Journal, writes a very appropriate article our problems with God when natural disasters cause over 100,000 deaths.

This is an article which should be posted on doors and handed out.

Sometimes we are left only with the declaration that God is indeed good and all will be well. That is the Christian hope. The world is not good, and life is filled with disaster. But at the end of all things God is good and all will be well. We are people of this promise especially when the reality of this present life seems to reveal all is actually rather bad. We neither ignore the present inexplicable evils nor lose hope in restoration of the future.

This is the heart of the book of Revelation. We are called to pray, give comfort, assist the needy and downtrodden, and bring light into darkness. We are not called to explain or understand everything. We have our part and having all the answers is not within our ability, even if there are many who would like to pretend to have such power.

political nuance

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“Thinking of Bush’s Christian values even helped with their questions about the carnage in Iraq.”

The Amish, the original pacifists, voted for the first time in decades, and they voted for Bush. Pacifism without inherent political bias apparently is a lot more nuanced than the run of the mill media variety. I do wish the article had gone more into their views of Iraq and the actions of the US military. The result of their vote shows that it must have been reconciled in some way.

For something completely different…

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A lovely site on Ireland culture and customs. It’s not quite as nice as being there but it does make for a nice afternoon getaway on a stormy wintery day.

Politics

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Well, here it is. The long awaited final post of the political season. I’ve taken some time, you see, trying to weigh the various events, study the post election punditry, seeking to see if there were profound insights which would solve this political storm.

I’ve come to a conclusion. Ready? It’s profound you know. Here it comes. I call it Patrick D. Oden’s political theory. I do believe it will revolutionize political thought in this world.

Here it is:

We disagree on things.

That’s it. The crux of the political firestorm. It’s obvious, of course, as most passionate issues are. We disagree. One person thinks one thing… I disagree. I come to a conclusion… they disagree.

Now there’s a deeper issue underlying this. We don’t like to disagree. That seems clearly an outlandish thing to say given world history but it’s true. We don’t like to disagree, so when we do disagree we feel a need to a) come to some agreement b) say why the other person is so vile as to overcome our natural tendency for agreeableness.

The first response seems happy and pretty and kind. It’s not. We like to agree with one another, but since we disagree, finding agreement is rather difficult. So, if both parties won’t come together and agree one party will make the other at least feign agreement through force. This force might be physical or something else. Forcing other people to agree with our views is the crux of much of world politics throughout history. We hate to have others disagree so they can be forced to agree, or killed, thus quieting the disagreement.

The second response is more the issue now. We disagree. But if we disagree that means there is something wrong… with us or with the other person. Humans have a psychologically impossible time admitting self-error so the error must be with the other person.

Take Iraq for instance, a popular subject to disagree about these days. George Bush ordered the US military to invade Iraq, depose Hussein, and rebuild the government. God Bless America and whoever we choose to put right, what, what.

Half the country thought this was wrong and would cause more problems and would cause the needless deaths of men and women for a cause that has no end. The other half disagreed. Half the country thought that war was a tricky proposition and some problems are bound to happen even if the war is going smashingly. The other half of the country disagreed.

But, we can’t leave those kinds of questions up in the air for history to decided. We have to have rhetorical attacks against each other because history takes far too long for our comfort level. Politics heightens disagreements, and therefore heightens our innate panic against such so we choose to villify the other. Bush is stupid, Democrats hate America. That way we can handle the disagreements without psychic harm.

In reality Bush invaded Iraq because he thought the world would be safer, and has a fair bit of global history behind him that says this could happen. Democrats thought that invading Iraq would cause more global problems. They too have global history behind them which say this could happen. So, we are left disagreeing and now only have history to show us what is right.

Another problem is that while we think we are a sophisticated folk, we really are rubes who don’t think for ourselves very well. Humans, it seems, are designed to live within a totalitarian regime where we are forced to believe what is agreed upon. So, when someone says something, we feel like we have to agree with it and believe it. Only we don’t and this makes us mad at the person who is forcing us, even when they are not forcing us.

One of the key aspects of getting through academia with peace of mind is this simple axiom: Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true. Yes, obvious. But I cannot tell you how relaxing it is to put this into practice. I can read someone I disagree with and not get all hot and bothered. I can listen to an opposing political point and not get up in arms.

Because we want to agree, any disagreement is seen as an attack on us. The idea there is no Truth is a way of getting around this, but as the recent election showed, those that think there is no Truth often are the most passionate about expressing their version of it anyhow. Really, it’s a way to undermine someone else’s perspective. That way they don’t force it on us, making us agree with them when we don’t want to.

Sure there are “moral values” issues and diplomacy issues and whatnot. The fact is that about 90% of the people in this country want a better country, want safer and more full lives, and want to find peace in this world. There are innumerable paths for getting all of this, and countless different ways of understanding what would make this country better. About 90% of people aren’t really into destroying someone else’s values or existence they just disagree on what is a better path in the long run.

The other 10% are on the fringes and really want power or control. We mostly all agree that these people are the very ones not to havee it. The curious thing is they don’t agree with each other within their ten percent, with radical perspectives of religion or non-religion thankfully keeping them on the fringes.

The rest of us simply disagree and that’s sad but to be expected. The fact is that most of us are right about something, none of us are right about everything, and all of us want everyone else to agree with what we think no matter what.

All the political commentary of the last year boils down to that. We disagree and we don’t like disagreement whatsoever. We hide it, mask it, shield it, redefine it, and otherwise twist it so that we are not forced to believe that which someone else believes, even though we don’t have to believe what we don’t want to believe. This reality causes no end of problems, but thankfully less problems in the long run than if we did force each other to be agreeable. Those times cause the biggest disagreements of all.

Humans are silly people, methinks.

What he said

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Now the worst was always trying to have a spirtual and meditative at Fuller Seminary, which surprising has every single space taken up by someone talking to someone else on their phone. What’s wrong with the Church? Pastors and those in training seem to not have any capacity for quiet thoughtfulness. Ah well, that’s why I moved to the mountains.

And why I have less interest in flying somewhere. I prefer to drive anyhow. Not that I have anywhere to go… but you never know…

Christmas

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Sure, it was a couple of days ago but in case you are wondering why it was then and not now, or another day, I found this a great and brief discussion of December 25.

Merry Christmas!

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May God bring light and salvation to your life!
Cedar Tree lit by the sun on Christmas Morn

Visitors

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I had four visitors come by just now for a quick meal in the backyard:Mountain Quail
Mountain Quail.

Nigerian and the Ukraine

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Does the Church even need the West anymore?

Airing Grievances and Feats of Strength

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A Festivus for the rest of us.