Monday, December 24, 2007


Can you see better in broad daylight?
Or are things clearer at night?
Does sunlight illumine, or obfuscate?
Depends on whether you are looking for a quarter dropped in the grass or looking at stars.
Can you think more clearly when wide awake, or when half asleep?
Sometimes the staggering improbability of the further stretches of quantum physics has a bizarre ring of truth to it. Why should there not be an infinite number of parallel universes, where exists every possible consequence for every possible action, when there is obviously an infinite number of possibilities?
The disputed glass; half-empty or half-full?
It seems to hinge on whether the glass is the one dumped over on your laptop or the one offered to you in the middle of Death Valley.
Is reality pressing in closer when you are depressed, or when you are glad to be alive?
The ambiguity is sometimes disturbing. It seems as if life ought to be true or false, instead of. . . . .an essay question, in which we are graded for effort and creativity.
Sometimes the reasons we have for being discouraged stack up evenly with the reasons we have for being happy.
Hypothetically, should a starving, homeless child in Calcutta be further discouraged by the rain pouring from the sky or delighted that he is alive to experience it?
(I found a challenge to my "don't expect too much out of life" philosophy in a book about Buddha.
A woman sorrowing over the death of her son went to the Buddha to ask him to bring her son back to life.
He answered her request by instructing her to bring him mustard seeds.
Specifically, she was to go throughout the village and obtain mustard seeds from any household where grief and death had not visited.
After going throughout the whole village and finding not one home where death had not been before her, she realized what the Buddha was trying to tell her.
Death and sorrow are facts of life and the sooner she realized this, the sooner she would find inner peace, the Buddhist apologist concluded happily.
It is all a matter of perspective, and no one would have been more cognizant of this than Jesus, yet He sobbed bitterly at the tomb of Lazarus and raised him back to life. This is not to mention the closer parallel of the widow's son.)
Do we suffer sickness and pain and labor at the hands of a capricious Creator or do we churlishly discard each and every nanosecond of the day, looking forward to its end?
We see through a glass darkly and are left the choice, every single day, to make of our existence what we will, until the silver cord is loosed and the golden bowl shattered.
And we are speechless with gratitude for the words of God,
"Let us create man in our own image."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Problem of Pleasure.

"I felt in my bones, first that this world does not explain itself . . . .Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning and meaning must have someone to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art. . .Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design.--And last, and strangest, there had come into my mind a vague and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin."

G. K. Chesterton, on his return to the Christian faith, after his long odyssey through a desolate philosophical wasteland.
Atheists present us with a paradox. The existence of a loving God with the misery that we all witness. And none of us can deny the occasional complaint, Why pain and Why me?
Chesterton, however, cheerfully turned the problem of pain back to the atheists of his day.
The atheists said "There's pain. Thus, there's no God."
Chesterton said "There's pleasure. Explain, please."
He meant reconcile unwarranted, unnecessary delight with random chance.
In a world that exploded into existence out of sheer dumb luck, a universe squeezed by staggering odds out of the passing eons of time, what right had pleasure to exist?
As far as I know, they have yet to answer. They're too busy being mad at God for not existing.
And they have raised the heights of morality higher than the monument in Babel ever towered.
What heroism, to be moral, when there is no obligation to be so.
How achingly beautiful, to find meaning when there was none created.
And how courageous, to face a world without a benevolent Equalizer.
If they could just sell this idea of responsible nihilism to the masses, not to mention the occasional Hitler.
Atheists and agnostics face a giant obstacle in human nature.
Evil embarrasses their grandiose humanism, over and over again. Every day in a thousand little deeds committed by each of the five billion of this earth's inhabitants their aims are frustrated. I suppose, however, that is the seduction. The goal of altruism is a pipe dream. And pride drives them on like a sharpened ox goad. They need no God or threat of reprisal to force their goodness. We hold to morals because we are afraid. They hold to morality simply because.
Pleasure, however, does pose a problem for materialistic atheism.
I sat in a parking lot waiting for Devan tonight.
NPR played on the radio. (If they only knew how discordant and disruptive their commentary is to their music) Robert Schumann, I think, was the composer. Simple, contemplative piano.
A cold rain gusted down over the shopping center.
I was looking out the windshield at the reflection of the street lights mirrored on the dimpled surface of the parking lot. A yellow street curb lay directly in front of me, and an impressionistic portrayal of the curb lay directly below that.
Without even trying, I felt vaguely surprised at such beauty. And for my eyes only, apparently. No one else was looking.
On the dashboard, I then saw the image of the tiny rivulets of water coursing down the windshield, reflected on the vinyl covered Styrofoam. I felt unworthy to look upon it.
On the pavement outside, I watched as each drop of rain pelted into the shallow peddles, and saw each individual drop explode into a perfect symmetrical vision, as it collided with the asphalt and shattered up to catch the light and refract God's seven perfect colors.
Why me?
Why was I chosen to have the privilege of sitting in that resplendent rain-soaked parking lot, watching thousands of points of light dancing and twinkling before my eyes?
One drop was all I needed to see in order to justify my creation.
I assume since it was dark, no one saw me taking pictures with my phone of the puddles in the parking lot.
But I really don't care.
When I have the unmitigated gall to ask why me? in the future, I'll take out my cell phone, flip it open and shrug.
I have no idea.

The Huckster

Considering my options, Mike Huckabee has my vote thus far. He has yet to gain my respect, however.
Early on, his message about being the man that is hated by the far left, and the far right, was enough to make me roll my eyes. And the self-applied label "the conservative who isn't mad at anybody," was groan material.
He didn't help his case any by jumping in the Bush bash.
His comments that Bush's Iraq policy is "arrogant" and calling it a "bunker" approach is more of the same Bush bashing that puts me at odds with most Republicans these days. They, like the Democrats, were in full war cry at the outset of the Iraq war, citing WMDs, al-Queada connections, and general national security concerns. And now, like the Democrats, they are quick and comfortable to point out perceived mistakes in Bush's war policy. I suppose it would considered simplistic by some to point out that Bush's record for protecting our country is impeccable, and considered naive by still others to assume that he and his administration should be worthy of a little respect on that count.
But I guess that's not enough for Huck.
His credentials for snipping at the Bush administration's foreign policy reminds me vaguely of another Arkansas governor's resume, which consisted of calling out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the disposal of chicken manure in the Arkansas River.
In the words of Bush the Elder, ". . .his foreign policy experience is limited to dining at the International House of Pancakes."
Quit the Bush bashing, Huck. It is insulting to us, and it exposes your own lack of experience, not to mention intelligence.