How I am feeling. . .

If you know much about me, you are aware that I am not one to show a great deal of emotion. Honestly, I have come to believe that I have some psychological barrier that prevents me from letting my worries out. If there is any relief from my pain that I so easily bury, and now work so hard to uncover, it comes through writing, so I thank you for reading. I truly believe that I express myself through words on paper better than any other facet of expression, but I am not sure why. When I was younger I used to write songs and poems to deal with what was going on in my head (I am not sure that this was the case because of my problems or my short-lived obsession with Eminem, but oh well). As I have gotten older, more cultured, and better read, I have been all but convinced that writing is the most powerful thing on earth. Ideas have alway captivated me and my mind is usually working through ideas and such at a million miles per hour. I think this is partly why I can’t let a lot of my emotions out: my brain is just too busy. I know that is not healthy, but its the truth.

Nevertheless, almost my entire life I have felt separated from other people. When I was younger, I always felt as if my interests and responsibilities were a step above everyone else around me. I don’t mean that in a “better-than-you” way, just in the since that I cared about different things and was motivated by deeper ideas. I do not mean it in the sense that other people were below me, because God knows I got the short end for wanting to grow up too fast while others lived as if they were perfect for that specific moment. I will not say I felt alienated – I had plenty of friends – but I definitely felt as if I was on a different radio frequency.

Now if you know me, you know that I am a big dreamer. Not only in a goal-oriented sense, but also in a fantasy sense. I can come up with some pretty wild stuff. I think that is where some of my feelings of disconnect come from, but I cannot be sure. It is almost as if my entire life I have been searching for something more, something greater than myself, and most importantly, something that would bridge that disconnect I felt and give me purpose.  I whole-heartily believe that this is the reason I am so interested in Christianity and the theology in general. I guess in some odd way I have, and still do, hold on to the hope that these truths about God and humanity will in some way allow me to be grounded like everyone else. Granted, I have come to the conclusion that I will probably never understand these perfect truths, but it is simply my love for hope that pushes me forward.

With all this in mind, my life has constantly been filled with moments – some short, other spanning months – where I was somewhere else in my mind searching for these ideas and truths while occasionally poking my head back into reality only to find the motivation to leave again. It is kind of like a bee keeper who occasionally dips his finger in the jar of honey to taste its sweetness only to remind himself why he keeps going to the hives to get stung.

It is the concrete reality of this life that allows me to think so abstractly. It is the hope of changing the present that pushes me to be absent.

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If my thoughts cannot connect with you, hopefully Soren Kierkegaard‘s will suffice. This is the epitome of how I feel at times. . .

 

Often, as I stood here on a quite evening, the sea intoning its song with deep but calm solemnity, my eye-catching not a single sail on the vast surface, and only the sea framed the sky and the sky the sea, while on the other hand the busy hum of life grew silent and the birds sang their vespers, then the few dear departed ones rose from the graves before me, or rather, it seemed as thought they were not dead. I felt so much at ease in their midst, I rested in their embrace, and I felt as though I were outside my body and floated about with them in a higher ether–until the seagull’s harsh screech reminded me that I stood alone and it all vanished before my eyes, and with a heavy heart I turned back to mingle with the world’s throng–yet without forgetting such blessed moments. — I have often stood there and pondered my past life and the different surroundings that have exerted power over me. And before my contemplative gaze, vanished the pettiness that so often causes offence in life, the many misunderstandings that so often separate persons of different temperament, who, if the understood one another properly, would be tied together with indissoluble bonds. When the whole, seen thus in perspective, presented only the larger, bolder outlines and I didn’t lose myself in detail as one so often does, but saw the whole in its totality, I gained the strength to grasp things differently, to admit how often I myself had made mistakes, and to forgive the mistakes of others. –As I stood there, without depression or despondency making me see myself as an enclitic of those whom I am usually surrounded, or without pride making me the constitutive principle in a small circle — as I stood there alone and forsaken and the power of the sea and the battle of the elements reminded me of my nothingness. . .He has found what that great philosopher desired but did not find: that Archimedean point from which he could lift the whole world, that point which is precisely for that reason must lie outside the world, that point outside the constraints of time and space.

Soren Kierkegaard. Journals and Papers Vol. AA (pg. 9).

Who Was I?

Who was I?

Once, and sometimes still, I was the Betrayer. Waiting for the coming of the Son of Humanity; forgetting that He was here all along.

Who was I?

Astonished, like the Soldier at the peak of the hill where He hung. Scared, mistaken, sorrowful, and wondering. Surely He was, wasn’t He?

Who was I?

Panting and nervous like Mary as I ran toward the grave. Faint as I expressed my concern to the gardener.

Love Wins: Kierkegaard’s Thoughts?

I know everyone is getting tired of hearing about Kierkegaard, but who cares; I like him.

With Rob Bell‘s recent release of Love Wins, a book addressing hell and universalism, it is still intriguing to watch YouTube videos of folks trashing his work. Whether Bell is right or wrong in his study is no the point off this post. My point is made through the Kierkegaard quote that follows:

If a man perhaps lacks courage to carry his thought through. . . then it is surely better to acquire this courage, rather than waste time upon undeserved eulogies.

Kierkegaard, Søren. FEAR AND TREMBLING  (p. 21).

As Kierkegaard says, at least he is struggling and speaking out about his uncertainties; at least he is carrying his thought through. Here is a guy who was extremely popular in the evangelical genre of Christianity, and he steps out with what he knew many people would crucify him over. And they did, if you havent heard. That takes courage.

I am aware of many things that I am unsure of, but I will be called a heretic before I give “undeserved eulogies” to doctrines and biblical stories that I am not quite sure of. Kudos to the person who has the courage to carry their thoughts through.

More Kierkegaard; Abraham and Paradox

Here is more on the Abraham story from Kierkegaard’s point of view. I interpret this quote as Kierkegaard’s way of explaining how one comes to the slightest understanding of the Abraham-Isaac story. More to come.

An old proverb fetched from the outward and visible world says: “Only the man that works gets the bread.” Strangely enough this proverb does not aptly apply in that world to which it expressly belongs. For the outward world is subjected to the law of imperfection, and again and again the experience is repeated that he too who does not work gets the bread, and that he who sleeps gets it more abundantly than the man who works. In the outward world everything is made payable to the bearer, this world is in bondage to the law of indifference, and to him who has the ring, the spirit of the ring is obedient, whether he be Noureddin or Aladdin, and he who has the world’s treasure, has it, however he got it. It is different in the world of spirit. Here an eternal divine order prevails, here it does not rain both upon the just and upon the unjust, here the sun does not shine both upon the good and upon the evil, here it holds good that only he who works gets the bread, only he who was in anguish finds repose, only he who descends into the underworld rescues the beloved, only he who draws the knife gets Isaac.

Kierkegaard, Søren (2009-06-22). FEAR AND TREMBLING (UPDATED w/LINKED TOC) (p. 19). Classics-Unbound. Kindle Edition.

In Memory of Dr. Burkette Raper

With the passing of Mount Olive College’s first president, Dr. W. Burkette Raper, I feel it only necessary to give a quote that Dr. Raper shared with the College on Founders Day, 2010. This quote has been the epitome of my MOC experience, and a great deal of that influence is owed to Dr. Raper.

“The only thing that the truth cannot penetrate is a closed mind.”  –Dr. W. Burkette Raper

 

Will the real Father Abraham please stand up.

For about 6 months now, I have wrestled with the “Abraham sacrificing Isaac” story. During this time, I have discussed with my classmates, read a daunting amount on the subject, and simmered the topic in my mind with no avail.

The main argument, or oddity if you will, about the story is Abrahams true state of mind in the famous Isaac sacrificial story.  Was Abraham crazy; was he marvelously obedient; or was it simply the social norm to sacrifice children without despair? Granted we only get the biblical writer’s side of the story, but I have spent many night wondering why Abraham would not rebel at the thought of killing his precious son whom her waited decades to birth.

Yes, there is a mystical side to this story as well as a faith-based assumption that Abraham knew what he was doing. But being the heretic that I am – I use heretic very lightly – I have to ask about the ethical implications of such and action and what it means to Bible readers today. I mean, come on; am I the only one who thinks its weird that one of the most celebrated stories in our faith tradition is a story about the “Father” of all Nations willing to murder his child in God‘s name?

Either way, while reading the jewel of a theologian by the name of Soren Kierkegaard, I came across this summary of his thoughts on the ethical implications of the Abraham- Isaac narrative. This may seem like a stale end to a very controversial post, but trust me, Kierkegaard is throwing around some heavy ethical brainage within this summary. Enjoy.

From Kierkegaard’s religious perspective, however, the conceptual distinction between good and evil is ultimately dependent not on social norms but on God. Therefore it is possible, as Johannes de Silentio argues was the case for Abraham (the father of faith), that God demand a suspension of the ethical (in the sense of the socially prescribed norms). This is still ethical in the second sense, since ultimately God’s definition of the distinction between good and evil outranks any human society‘s definition. The requirement of communicability and clear decision procedures can also be suspended by God’s fiat. This renders cases such as Abraham’s extremely problematic, since we have no recourse to public reason to decide whether he is legitimately obeying God’s command or whether he is a deluded would-be murderer. Since public reason cannot decide the issue for us, we must decide for ourselves as a matter of religious faith.

McDonald, William, “Søren Kierkegaard”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .