Eternally Young and Energetic

That’s a description I just heard of God. And it blew my mind. God is old. Possibly somewhat decrepit. Ok, all powerful. But at bare minimum, He’s old, right?

I have never in my LIFE heard anyone describe God as young, let alone eternally young.

The ramifications are many. Endless, like God?

Source: (listen to Wed, Dec. 9)

Text: Isaiah 40:25-31

Goodness and Pain

What does it mean for God to be good and for excruciating and endless pain to exist? Should I change my view of pain? Should I change my view of good? Or, last but not least, I could change my view of God.

Good = desiring the health of the other.
Pain = not health.
God = good?

I recognize complexity plays a role. So when I talk about “the other” I am talking about 7 billion + humans. They can be  thought of individually or collectively. Both creates new problems.

Had my quiet time this morning, audio version, and the speaker encouraged the listener to rest in God’s goodness. Rest isn’t possible in the middle of pain. Pain forces the sufferer to do everything within its power to remove the pain – i.e. it forces action.

But what to do, what to believe, when nothing removes the pain?

Ethics, Bonhoeffer, and Bifurcation

I’ve always found ethics to be the least interesting part of philosophy. Metaphysics – seems to be pretty foundational so it’s eternally interesting. Epistemology – how you know what you know – you just don’t get more foundational than that, so again, inherently interesting. (If something foundational changes, your entire world changes. Hence, the interesting bit.) But ethics. Ethics? I’m bored to tears. Maybe I’m just not very moral.

But real quick, let me define terms. I use “ethics” and “morality” interchangeably and the meaning is “a standard of behavior”. Now it gets interesting. Before recently, my view of these concepts was very fuzzy since no one around me ever seemed to take the time to define them, and I apparently didn’t either.

So what is my standard of behavior? My behavior has always been determined by what I feel at the moment (digestion/whimsy/a stream of consciousness which I can’t fully divine), fear (social repercussion, physical repercussion, or really repercussion of any sort), pleasure (does this need defined?), and my faith (Christian). And, until recently, I never paid a speck of attention to my own morality. I have simplistically thought of it as something shared by all humans, at a base level. Thanks C.S. Lewis. And I have been satisfied to allow many of my behaviors to be driven by my faith. After all, most faith systems are all-encompassing and all-demanding. The Christian faith certainly is. So, I’ve felt right before God by following the injunctions of the Bible and, to some extent, of Christian tradition. Beyond that my need to please my parents and other important folk of my life has been entirely motivating. My need for people to like me is probably equally motivating. And last, sometimes that second half the of the Nutella jar is simply shrieking my name through the closet door. That’s always a voice I can hear. And heed.

Bonhoeffer is a book I’ve been reading, and he has been challenging my thought. It’s been perfect taking an Ethics class at the same time as reading this. Bonhoeffer was a German scholar/pastor, born into the highest and most powerful level of society, during the rise and dominance of Hitler. He ultimately chose to actively try to kill Hitler, by joining a movement which nearly succeeded. Right before the war ended, he was killed by the Nazis for this choice. Bonhoeffer wrote a work entitled “Ethics” and he is nearly painfully thought out, superbly German and demanding, like Kant, so when he both writes “Ethics” and chooses to try to kill his own head of state, you have to take this seriously.  Bonhoeffer is very good at making controversial statements. In fact, he states at least once, that he does this intentionally. Sometimes I find it too much and ridiculous. But here is one quote I will end on.

“Those who wish even to focus on the problem of a Christian ethic are faced with an outrageous demand-from the outset they must give up, as inappropriate to this topic, the very two questions that led them to deal with the ethical problem: ‘How can I be good?’ and ‘How can I do something good?’ Instead they must ask the wholly other, completely different question: ‘What is the will of God?”

I hope to read “Ethics”, or at least a summary. In the meantime, I have been very piqued/disturbed by Bonhoeffer’s bifurcation between God and good. Not the newest problem in the world, but it’s not one I’m convinced I can accept. Does this not facilitate extreme/dangerous and completely unpredictable religious behavior?

A Burden of Beauty

A burden of beauty. This phrase came to me while being overwhelmed at a friend’s dedication to Jesus Christ, and more largely at God’s supreme dedication to man. I sometimes hate reading/knowing these things because they are so costly emotionally. I feel the deepest part of myself being invaded, but is it not also beautiful? I’ll be more specific. When I see my sweet friend speak freely, lovingly, truthfully, and out of true and natural conviction about the best thing in life (God’s love for man), I am forced to look at this blinding beauty. Why does God love me? Why does God love anyone? Why God? A universe without Him is a bit easier, but also unbearably meaningless. So, when someone who commands my respect speaks of the paragon of what it means to be human – to know the source of life, God Himself – my heart is invariably pointed in that direction, my face is pointed towards the sun. And God is not easy. He is demanding. He is perfect. He is partially unknown and thus invariably scary. I prefer to think about cleaning out a vase I just emptied, doing the dishes, warming up the pot roast for dinner, cleaning out my email inbox, reading some Sherlock Holmes, and going to bed. Anything other than God Himself. I guess He wears me out sometimes. A silly thing given that Jesus wanted the “little children to come unto him” and drives His point home by saying that we can only know Him if we can be a child. Well, I can do that! I excel at needing guidance, at requiring another nap (or break), at having 10,000 questions and not always knowing the full ramifications of my own questions or even retaining the ability/energy to wait for the answer. My mother tells me we are all children. Whether or not we know it. I suppose in the Christian ideal, you simply know, and this creates humility.

The Weight of Glory. This is the title of one of C.S. Lewis’ books, and it’s another way of saying what I was saying: a burden of beauty, something which is both “exactly what we would want” but also costly. Why do the best things in life have to be costly?