Cliff Hanging and Earthquakes

by Deana Chadwell5/31/17
This is shocking, and in our post-modern world I shouldn’t admit it, but I like to think.  I know, I know – if I were truly cool and trendy I’d acknowledge, in grand existentialist style, that everything is just matter, therefore nothing matters, so I should just emote away about whatever matter is currently in vogue.  But I can’t.

I am human and I was made in God’s image and God thinks, therefore I think.

Q. Why isn’t thought more popular, then?  (I can hear you thinking.)

A. We’ve been taught to start in the wrong place, so we get lost and give up.

Q. Where is the wrong place?

A.  Read on…..

Picture two cliffs separated by a great chasm.  The cliffs are made of sedimentary rock, layer upon layer, each a slightly different shade.  On one side the stone deposits have built up on bedrock, solid and immovable – absolute truth.  On the opposite bank the levels are less regular and horizontal.  The foundation on which they rest their considerable weight is cracked and volcanic, full of air bubbles, nearly weightless – relative truth.

If you stand with me on the solid side, you’ll understand what I’m about to say; if not, hang on tight because somewhere deep inside you’re about to feel wobbly.

Let’s look at the bedrock.  It consists of God – the God who existed before He spoke time and space into existence, before Earth, before before.  This is Jehovah – “I am that I am,”  (Exodus 3:14). Where God is there is absolute existence, and therefore absolute truth.

What about the opposing pumice foundation, the one that says nothing is absolutely true?

Well, we all intuitively know that one of the most important rules of logic says that no true statement can be self-refuting.  “I am not me,” makes no sense.  “My Dachshund is not a dog,” fares no better.  How does “There is no absolute truth” strike you?   Yes, I know, It has an absolutist ring to it, but most of today’s intellectuals will swear by that assertion, even while their base crumbles beneath them.  In this scenario God becomes nothing more than a human construct embedded in the string of time we call history; godness is whatever we want it to be.  We aren’t made in God’s image, but he/she/they in ours.

If, though, we start with the stability of side one, we can figure out that the God of Truth would want us, His creatures, to know truth – and sure enough, there’s the Word of God; we can barely imagine a being so true to Himself that His Word and His existence are one and the same  — “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God,” (John 1:1).  Not only did He reveal Himself in His Word, but also in His creation; what we know as modern science began as a search for more information about God.

The opposite side of the chasm boasts purely human wisdom and post-modern science, which schlepps about in its own quagmire of Darwinian assumptions, assumptions that are being rapidly demolished by real science, which is more interested in truth than in invention.  Follow me – if there is no absolute truth and God is just another fabrication, then science alone can explain our existence – though, if nothing is true, I can’t imagine why we would bother.

what we know as modern science began as a search for more information about God.

Under it all we want to know who we are, why we are, so we keep looking. “What is the nature of Man? “ my favorite teacher always used to ask.  If we take God’s Word as absolute truth, then the “nature of man” is not a rosy picture,  “ All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).  If, on the other side of the chasm, we’re just making things up as we go (which is reasonable if nothing is rock bottom – pardon the pun – true).  It feels just fine to state, with absolute surety, that man is basically good.

Add a little evolutionary twist to that and we learn that man is getting even better, the barbarism of the last century (to say nothing of the current ISIS mess) notwithstanding.

This attitude puts the relativist in a pickle though.  How is he going to explain evil if man is basically good?  The scapegoats (sorry about using a biblical term) obediently line up – society, chemistry, family, corporations, poverty, bullying – and all get the cart before the horse.  How can the crookedness of a building be the reason why the bricks it’s built of are warped? The relativist spends a lot of energy trying to restructure society, the economy, the drug laws, etc. all in an effort to rescue perfect man from his evil oppressors.  Somehow the fact that the oppressors are also people eludes him.

The relativist has another option, though, if the transference thing gets shaky: he can change what “sin” means.  If we’re doomed to do evil, and nothing is carved in stone, then let’s just change the meaning of evil.  Easy.  Pedophilia is really just fine because kids really want it.  I had a class of honors students tell me right after 9/11 that it wasn’t wrong that the high-jackers flew those planes into the Twin Towers.  They were doing what they thought was right.

Evil, on the other cliff, is a very clear and solid idea.  Anything non-God, anti-God is evil – a once-perfect angel, a “well-meaning” politician, a self-centered parent.  God is absolute perfection (and I am not talking about Allah), so anything short of that perfection ….. Yikes. I’m very glad God has a solution for this, because I don’t. “For God so loved the world that He gave is only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

Our national dialogue is getting nastier and nastier because, at the very bottom of the cliffs we stand on, our assumptions are diametrically opposed.  On one side morality is clear, immutable, and imposed by God – on the other it’s improvisational, constantly changing,  and driven by whatever the latest catch phrase is – tolerance, diversity, equality  — the ends always justifying the means.  Nothing is evil, just sick or browbeaten.

The solid cliff recognizes free will and our own responsibility; it acknowledges that only the grace of God can fix anything because we humans are too screwed up.  The relativist side assumes that we are all victims, doomed to be poor, or addicted, or gay, or whatever, and that stopping our pain will involve transferring that pain to someone else.  “Tax the rich” folks shout, believing that impoverishing someone else can enrich them.

We can’t straighten out this tangle of ideologies without acknowledging our basic differences.   Let’s choose our cliffs with our eyes wide open and let’s be ready to defend our positions from our foundations without feeling the need to malign or threaten, bully or demean. It is true, however, that standing on a shaky foundation is enough to make any of us desperate enough to start name-calling. If you can’t logically, factually win an argument then you are doomed to committing that faux pas.

So where do you come from?  On what do you stand?  Which cliff do you claim? And should you be feeling equivocal, there are only two, and the gulf between them is widening. We can all feel the ground shaking.


Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. She is also an adjunct professor at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing and public speaking.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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62 Responses to Cliff Hanging and Earthquakes

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Note that there have been examples of students defending the Holocaust because the Nazis no doubt had a reason do do it (which, if you read Dr. Gilbert’s conversations with Julius Streicher at Nuremberg, is true in a demented way). Of course, Soviet apologists have long defended Stalin’s atrocities, even the worst such as the terror famine and the Yezhovshchina). Not all atheists are evil, but atheism makes evil easier.

    • Inevitably, atheism sucks into the vacuum it leaves all kinds of nasty things. This is why we see so many leftists so taken with Islam. The Judeo-Christian God that they hate so much isn’t there, so the whole bowing and praying and head scarf thing looks kind of cool, so….

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The irony is that most of what they hate about Christianity (such as its moral codes) is even worse with Islam. But it’s Christianity that they hate.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          They hate Christianity because it is what they know and Western society allows people to hate it without consequence.

          One doesn’t hate Islam in Saudi Arabia and get away with it.

        • Daniel J. Elmore says:

          Where do we see atheists and/or leftists loving on Islam?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Actually, I didn’t say atheists love Islam; in fact, there have been several “anti-Muslim” attacks by atheists that merely reflected their general atheism (including the recent Portland incident). But their leaders don’t seem to hate Islam as they do Christianity.

            As for liberals, the same holds true. Note their refusal to identify radical Islam as a major source of terrorism. But the Black God did seem to be rather pro-Islam.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              But their leaders don’t seem to hate Islam as they do Christianity.

              Of course atheists hate Christians. What would be the point of being an atheist if you didn’t? It’s the central focus of being an atheist. It’s to show the world that you share the secret handshake that Christians are all a bunch of dowdy, snake-handling, intolerant, anti-scientific knuckleheads who have a particular disdain for anal sex. Without that, can you honestly say that any of these people, except with a few rare exceptions, impresses anyone as particularly well-informed, let alone benevolent?

              Islam comes along for the ride as being loved (or at least ignored) by atheists because “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Where do we see atheists and/or leftists loving on Islam?

            Why do you ask the question on this string? Nobody came close to asserting that atheists love Islam.

            None the less, it can be said that atheists/leftists are quite happy to work with Islam in order to bring down Western culture. Try reading some comments on leftist European newspaper strings and blogs.

            My favorite is when called out on this, leftists will often admit and brag about their success in bringing down Christianity. They then say once they are finished destroying Christianity, Islam will be next and should be easy to bring down. I think they might be mistaken in this belief.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              They then say once they are finished destroying Christianity, Islam will be next and should be easy to bring down. I think they might be mistaken in this belief.

              Christians are easy marks for fake Kumbaya because central to their message is a sort of Holy “can’t we all just get along” Kumbaya-ism. And I’m not mocking that. I think it’s absolutely central. It’s the cheek that is turned. It is the opposite of generating and amplifying grievance for insults, real and imagined. It is the basic lubrication for a good society, let alone a Christian one.

              Many make a great show of faking this kind of cheek-turning. Few (including myself) can actually do it. Jesus wept. He would have to given how much fake compassion there is these days.

              But even if you do the hard work of that one cheek, then there is that other cheek which is supposed to hate evil and love righteousness. The marketing monsters of the Left have done a terrific job (hey…remember that Trump is president, he of the libtard children who are running things) of convincing most Christians that they have only the one cheek. And to not embrace every damn stupid notion coming down the pike is to be unloving, intolerant, racist, sexist, and having the urge to want to set baby kittens on fire.

              The righteous voice of this site is still Glenn Fairman. Wonder where he is. Hope he’s doing well. Good need not be namby-pamby. It can be kind. Patient. Etc. Go down the list of items in 1 Corinthians 13. But it also strong, courageous, wise, and knows when and where to apply the stick or the carrot.

              Islam dispenses with all subtlety. Much like the Nazis they allied with, they just want to rule the world. Atheists aren’t much different. They also believe they are the master race.

              Real Christians are tough to conquer. After all, they kept evil Islam out of Europe for the most part (until now). The Kumbaya ones are supplying the rope with which Islam will hang them.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Of course, it mostly wasn’t Christians who let the Muslim invasion proceed, but secular globalists.

                And Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump aren’t completely running things. If they were, Trump wouldn’t have pulled us out of the Paris farce.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                In Europe, the “secular globalists” are the rank-and-file of the population. Hell, consider than London has a Muslim mayor. They believe this “religion of peace” stuff.

                Europe is no longer a Christian continent, but America is, by the numbers, still overwhelmingly Christian. At least by labels. The problem is, Leftism has replaced the core values (virtues they once were) of most Christians. In essence, they’ve been pre-enoculated against even naming the enemy.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                In Western Europe, good sense about the jihadist threat is a fringe position. That isn’t quite the case here — yet.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                The only difference between here and Europe that I can see, Timothy, is that they have more Muslims. I see no instrument or attitudes in place to prevent the same thing from happening here. Indeed, it is happening here. Imagine if those south of the border were Muslims instead of poor Catholics. We would be stopping neither one of them.

      • Michael Nelson says:

        “atheism sucks into the vacuum it leaves all kinds of nasty things.”
        And the guiding principle for atheists and the left filling that vacuum is simple as ABC – Anything But Christ.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    God is at a distinct disadvantage in competing with the marketing message of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. (SDRR). This year (I think) is the 50th anniversary of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band,” one of the greatest modern albums. While the Bible remains old and stodgy and full of “thou shalt nots,” modern pop culture is a smorgasbord of an endless entertainment, a potpourri of pleasing things to possess, and a carnival of the carnal. Moses may have parted the Red Sea but no religious sensibility (outside of murderous Islam) can capture people’s attention like modern popular/industrial culture.

    It is what it is. Perhaps the unchanging truths will bite people in the ass when they least expect it, when the entire edifice of SDRR will come crashing down, as we see is inevitable in Europe which is slated to fall to the darkness of Islam. People are mesmerized by the easy abundance of truly marvelous “stuff.” Taking the time to go outside and repair a few holes in the roof would just get in the way of quality party time.

    I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
    And stops my mind from wandering
    Where it will go

    I’m filling the cracks that ran through the door
    And kept my mind from wandering
    Where it will go

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      This year (I think) is the 50th anniversary of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band,” one of the greatest modern albums

      The album came out in March (I blv) of 1967 and I bought my copy, which I still have, in May or June. It was quite different from anything which had come out prior to it. I don’t think it was the Beatles best album, but it was still excellent.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I remember that my older brother had the album and the very colorful gatefold sleeve. A marvel for a child of 9 at the time. I can’t say that I was really into the album at the time. Shades of things to come, but I can say that even at that age I preferred their early stuff. Gee…where have you heard that before? 😀

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I read the comments to this article over at AT. It’s a bit of a quagmire with one atheist there trolling quite successfully, although there are several sensible people as well. But this quote was curious, at best:

    I have one little bone to pick with the author. I assert that man is basically good. Some men are evil, a small minority, say 5% (I doubt it’s that many). Man can be basically good even if 5% are bad.

    I suppose the ingredients used to bake a cake are “basically good” — until you bake the cake and either mess it up or it turns out okay (but never perfect). That is, the concept of “basically good” applies perhaps to the design, the basic ingredients. But if God created man, it would be wrong to say that this design is “basically bad.” But what we do with the ingredients is what is at stake.

    Perhaps some men are born intrinsically evil. Could be. Birth defects happen all the time. Perhaps moral defects can be built in as well to such a degree that there is little active choice involved.

    But certainly the evidence is, given that entire societies can turn mad, that the assertion that “men are basically good” is disproven time after time. I agree with Dennis Prager. People might be born innocent, but they need to be made good.

    And this was an interesting observation by someone regarding a snarky atheist who populated that thread with his snark:

    Atheists like you really don’t have an intellectual problem with God. What you have is a moral problem pretending to be an intellectual problem. You simply want to be free to indulge your lusts without moral accountability to any God. Otherwise the simple principle of primal cause would have been obvious to you.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The atheist is probably referring to the percentage of the population who are sociopaths, which is estimated at about 5%. But of course there are also many other harmful psychological disorders, some of which may also be innate. He implicitly considers it good to give free rein to his vices — which is basically the reason Dr. Henry Jekyll created his alter ego.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I don’t think it was an atheist who made the 5% comment. But there was an atheist there giving an opinion whose only point was to demean and provoke.

        But it is an interesting logical problem:

        1) If God is good, aren’t we intrinsically good as well?

        2) If we are, as one poster wrote, “an effect without a cause,” then, of course, moral imperatives are strictly pragmatic and are human inventions which can (and as we have see, do) shift with the wind.

        Obviously what we see in reality gives some credence to both possibilities, at least at face value with no digging deeper. People indeed do bad things, and quite frequently — so frequently, in fact, that it seems consistent with a godless, purposeless universe where the only moral measure is power, preference, or convenience.

        If would also seem utterly impossible for random processes to create human beings as “intrinsically good,” for good is only an after-the-fact subjective measure of things, rooted only in opinion.

        The only way to not throw out the Divine baby with the sinful human bathwater is to admit that semi-independent entities (such as us) do have free will. And more than that, we have the ability to know good and evil, to choose between them (for surely even squirrels can choose where to bury their nuts, although we can quibble about just how much free will other creatures have…but few, if any, have the ability to know good or evil as concepts outside of themselves).

        Even so, the world is not unambiguously full of clearcut good-or-evil choices. A random universe has no moral imperatives at all. But, conversely, that doesn’t mean a purposeful and created one is going to be a piece of cake to navigate. In fact, experience suggests just the opposite.

        Many people, of course, live as though the only thing that matters to their existence is their own appetites. And many who do believe in God don’t behave much differently. The circumstance we find ourselves in is where Faith is something the world doesn’t necessarily bolster and support. One chooses to walk that path or not, but always there will be the feeling of walking unsupported above a deep chasm, at least from time to time. That is the nature of our existence. So much is unknown and ambiguous.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          My view is that most people want to be good — but only after taking care of their own interests first. There are some who don’t care about others, and others who really try to follow the biblical admonitiion to “love your neighbor as yourself”. But most of us are somewhere in the middle.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Timothy, your Chief Cook and Bottle Washer works hard to be honest about the overall. I doubt there are many mornings when I wake up and think, “Gee…I sure want to outdo myself in goodness today.” Granted, some do. In any religious Order, they surely should.

            I may be lazy but not fundamentally dishonest. But you can see how and why many adopt the title of “planet savers” which all this global warming nonsense. It’s very very cheap sanctity.

            I view life as being caught in a shitstorm. You look for solid guideposts to hang onto. And you certainly should to refrain from spitting into the wind (not much luck with that myself). But given that human beings have a fundamental gravitation toward deceit and corruption, and given that I am only human as well, the best we can do on some days is put a coarse-mesh filter between us and the shitstorm.

            But to actually get up in the morning with a moral acceleration to do good? Again, some do, and congratulations to them. For me it’s enough simply not to dig the hole deeper. And I won’t pretend otherwise. And perhaps most of the time that is enough.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              But to actually get up in the morning with a moral acceleration to do good? Again, some do, and congratulations to them. For me it’s enough simply not to dig the hole deeper. And I won’t pretend otherwise. And perhaps most of the time that is enough.

              How about the old concept of doing one’s duty. This may be doing good, who knows? But it certainly is accepting one’s responsibility to one’s fellows.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                You may be right, Mr. Kung. Certainly “doing one’s duty,” as traditionally understood (taking care of oneself and family, as well as due diligence regarding the security of the entire tribe or nation) is a non-flashy thing.

                Surely this is why “duty” has morphed to moral exhibitionism (what is also called “virtue signally”) by being outraged that Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord, for instance. “Duty” to the generations who also need the left hand to see what the right one is doing (in regards to that bible verse), it must necessarily be flashy…and easy.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            My view is that most people want to be good — but only after taking care of their own interests first.

            So if being good costs them, they will be bad. Is that good? Is the simple absense of “bad” then good?

            Just to be clear, I think your view may be correct in that most people don’t necessarily go about trying to screw others on a regular basis. To do so would involve extra effort and have a cost. If one is reasonably secure and content, the effort and cost might not be worth the potential gain.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I would say that my theory explains such farces as hashtag activism. People want to be good, but not at a price. Of course being good is affected by culture — jihadists think behaving civilians is a Good Thing.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I would say that my theory explains such farces as hashtag activism. People want to be good, but not at a price.

                I think you’ve got it. As I like to point out to the pretenders who make such meaningless gestures, “that and two dollars will get you a cup of coffee.”

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I was watching the TV last night. And whether this thought was induced by the commercials, the Sunday news programs, or some of the lame programming, it occurred to me just how much popular culture defines people.

                It is not odd in the least the culture strongly defines someone’s reality — both in terms of identity and day-to-day habits and practices. This is the reason the Chinese, for instance, are different from Kenyans or the Irish from Samoans. When cultures go bad (Nazi Germany, Socialist Europe, Maoist China, etc.) then perhaps we spend more time thinking about how people are influenced by culture.

                Culture is habits of dress as well as habits of thought. I doubt there has ever been a truly “libertarian” culture of atomized people all doing their own thing with little or no thought (conscious or otherwise) given to what other people are doing. That would be nearly an impossible situation because we humans are built to be extremely impressionable regarding culture.

                That said, I wonder if I am correct in thinking that Progressive culture has gone entirely overboard in defining “habits of thought.” Because this is a huge marketplace of commercial “stuff” that we live in, it is possible to now live somewhat atomized material lives (habits of dress, etc.) than ever before. But this seems to be compensated by the “habits of thought” being inculcated and determined by the culture at large as the individual cedes more and more of his intellectual and moral life to forces outside himself. But, gee, at least he can determine which color of iPhone protector he will buy (which is a Mark Steyn line, by the way).

              • Timothy Lane says:

                And yet for all that, we still have room — so far — for dissenting views, at least in some locales. Leftist culture totally dominates academia (though there are exception even there, such as Hillsdale and Liberty), as well as many other areas, but it hasn’t completely taken over yet. This may be easier to see in Kentucky or Texas than in Seattle.

        • Brad — You are leaving out Genesis 3. Man was created in God’s image, but upon choosing to disobey the only law in existence, mankind became fatally flawed. Death came into the picture. Eventually, all will work out, but in the meantime….

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Well, I have a problem with the idea of Original Sin as in eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It seems obvious to me that God created a world in which conflict, deceit, death, and more are inherent. Neo-Darwinian beliefs regarding the original of life may be a crock, but the idea of “survival of the fittest” is very much apt. Much of moral behavior is about man overcoming the dictates of nature, “red in tooth and claw.” We can wonder why the Creator set up such a competitive, harsh environment. But if there was a Creator, he surely did.

            I do not think it is possible that one bad decision by two people way back when could be responsible for all the bad behavior we see today. Nor do I think it’s just that the rest of mankind, for all time, be punished for what was one error. It seems inevitable that Adam or Eve would eventually not obey God’s every law in the Garden, that one error was inevitable. Even men who are not intrinsically evil will sometimes make foolish, although innocent, mistakes. It’s the very nature of not being omniscient.

            One of the sad realities of our existence is the deceit and often even violence are so readily and amply rewarded. It’s possible that it wasn’t a decision in the Garden that facilitated our downfall but that the Garden (and the rest of the area outside the garden) are given to facilitating bad behavior. The Garden is full of weeds. It seems to me that the human task is to apply weed-killer where appropriate and to sow good seeds. If this situation is the reality, and I believe it is, then whether we grow good or bad fruit is predicated upon what we consider good and bad. Historically, whatever has forwarded myself or my tribe has been the “good.” That can include all kinds of stuff that you or I would self-evidently see as bad, including slavery, wars of conquest, etc.

            I think God had that Garden spring-loaded with the snake. Why, I don’t know. But even this story admits that God let the snake into the garden to subvert his perfect little sinless world. Whatever the case may be, we are forever presented with the choice of being mere animals or being something more. Oddly, it was the desire to be something more that is said led to the downfall of Adam and Eve and the rest of mankind. So I find this story to be problematic on several levels.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      That poster’s comments are spot on. This describes Ayn Rand and many other libertarians to a T.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I do think that poster nailed it when he said, “What you have is a moral problem pretending to be an intellectual problem.”

        I have no problem with atheism as a metaphysical assertion. Aspects of the world give evidence to at least a stand-offish Creator…resembling, in ways, a non-existent one. But I do believe there is much more to atheism, as practiced, than just an interesting metaphysical supposition. Given how humans tend to self-deceive, I think that poster is onto something.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I do think that poster nailed it when he said, “What you have is a moral problem pretending to be an intellectual problem.”

          It is basically the same as our point about “Little Monsters.”

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            It is basically the same as our point about “Little Monsters.”

            One of the reasons I tend to mix well with Christians, despite being sort of obnoxious on the subject at times, Mr. Kung, is that you could say that God has graced me with a fairly healthy bitch-slapping. I won’t read out my list of woes because I have little doubt the list of most others are much longer and more poignant. But when one has tasted bitter and survived it — and hasn’t turned into a little monster — then one can understand the deep concepts underpinning Christianity (not including Kumbaya Christianity).

            But you have two (perhaps three) choices in regards to life handing you lemons. You can make lemonade (conservatism), screw up your face in one gigantic and ever-present pucker (liberalism), or smoke the lemon peals (Libertarians).

            Okay, only half joking there. But despite having a temper at times (as others can attest), I never, ever wanted to be a Little Monster. Although we often spread our miseries onto others unintentionally, my first reaction to pain has never been to want to spread my misery to others. For some damn reason, sympathy and compassion are what are usually evoked.

            I stand aghast at most of the liberal foolishness, but what really throws me for a loop are the little monsters. A friend was telling me about the recent Portland murders. It happened in this guy’s city. A mentally disturbed man was hassling some women on the bus (or subway) and some gentlemen came to their aid. Their thanks for it was having their throats slashed.

            And one of the relatives of the victims has let it be known that someone after-the-fact stole the wedding ring off her dead husband or brother, as well as his backpack. My friend told me that there was video of it and the guy has already been arrested. Although I don’t agree at all with my friend’s assessment, he was more outraged by the theft of the ring than by the murders, reasoning the that murderer was completely out of his mind but the guy who stole the ring made a very conscious choice. Could be. He has at least a minor point.

            This whole argument about “man being basically good” is absurd on the face of it to me. Anyone who knows the least thing about children knows that they (particularly boys) will tend toward quite horrible things unless stopped and corrected. When we create beastly and wild boys — if only by neglect — we will get beastly and wild men. And this is what is happening.

            Falling in the cracks of all this is, I believe, an even larger constituency, borne out by increased rates of depression, drug uses, and suicide. It is that large and gathering constituency of people who are basically decent themselves, but have been worn down by this amoral (often immoral) system that Progressives are building. And they are being mind-farked, confused and tormented by the constant mixed messages they are getting. Heaven and earth are moved to worry about some queer couple who can’t get a cake baked at a particular place but consent is given to murdering the unborn in the millions.

            Somewhere inside of all by the truly sociopathic is a voice, however beaten-down and feeble, that still knows that the Left is turning the world upside down and that wrong is wrong. Instead of lashing out in perpetual anger over this mind-farking as many do, they instead turn inward. I have pity for these people and little but contempt for those creating this crazy environment of doublespeak and whatnot.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              It’s hard to remember all my reactions when young, but I have long felt sympathy for the pain suffered by others, and even more so over emotional abuse. On the other hand, there are countervailing emotions, reflected in my fondness for the torture machine in Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony”. No doubt religious lessons about Hell influenced me.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I’ve always thought that life required both the carrot and the stick. And both ought to be supplied for the same reason, and no other — the improvement and encouragement of another to become better.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I couldn’t agree more. Without some type of incentive, (both positive and negative as neither is completely effective in all situations) too many would vegetate and never realize anything near their potential. They would also become a drag on society as a whole.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                And, quite obviously, we’re seeing a lot of college students who obviously never had any incentive to do right or do well.

  4. Gibblet says:

    In regards to people “being good” or “being evil” it is helpful to remember the divine emphasis is not on behavior, but relationship. Love God. Love your neighbor. “Good” behavior should be the outflow of loving relationship.

    The “dont’s” and “do’s” of God’s Word define the nature of good and evil. Relationship reveals the heart.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The “dont’s” and “do’s” of God’s Word define the nature of good and evil. Relationship reveals the heart.

      This may well be, but as far as society goes, I will settle for good actions. The law cannot read hearts.

      • Gibblet says:

        “The law cannot read hearts.”

        “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
        -Matthew 10:16 (ESV)

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It’s important to remember that morality hopefully influences law, they’re two different things. God, if indeed ominscient, can know why people do things and what’s in their hearts. The law can’t — though certain radical judges are claiming otherwise regarding Trump and his travel ban.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I get your point, and I think it’s a good one, Gibblet. “Good” and “evil” are just esoteric terms on their own. Disembodied from action (including relationship-forming), they are just words.

      In many respects, our goodness or rottenness will manifest itself in how we relate to other people. The problem comes in regards to cults and groupthink. If relationship for the sake of relationship becomes the thing, we humans are very apt to overlook various evils in the name of maintaining good relationships.

      Which brings us right back to the concepts of “good” and “evil.” It seems that we need some familiarity with these terms and what they mean even prior to relationship or else our values and virtues can’t help but be pulled to relativism.

      • Gibblet says:

        “I get your point”

        Yes, Brad, I think you do.

        I would sum it up like this:
        1) Know God’s definitions of good and evil (after all, He is the only one with the authority to establish the standard),
        2) Live by, promote, and support God’s definitions,
        3) Be wise enough to know when “good” is being used to promote “evil” agendas. Be innocent of same.

        But if one does not acknowledge God’s authority, and does not willingly subject himself to it, why should he care about good and evil except as a means to promote himself?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          And without such an authority, what standard do we have to distinguish good from evil?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I read a Michelle Malkin piece this morning, Gibblet, and I think it is not always easy to avoid promoting evil agendas. I was watching some YouTube videos last night regarding classic computer gaming systems. And then I read this Malkin article this morning and then thought of your words, Be wise enough to know when “good” is being used to promote “evil” agendas.

          One of the realities is that nearly all of big business — Google (which includes YouTube), Apple, Amazon, PayPay, Microsoft — promote agendas that could be taken out of the pages of either 1984 or Brave New World — or some other dystopian novel not yet written (although I’m sure Timothy knows of a few).

          We’re repeatedly told by prominent conservatives and Christians (or Jews such as Dennis Prager) to overlook Trump’s faults because he’s on “our side.” And, after all, God has chosen flawed people before to forward His agenda.

          So what does one do when one’s pursuits are innocent enough (watching a YouTube video for video gaming, using PayPal to accept customer payments, buying slippers on Amazon, buying a needed computer from Apple, etc.) when the companies themselves are corrupt? Am I okay because, after all, these corrupt people or companies do provide an end product that is useful and good?

          I suppose the first thing is not to deceive oneself. And one should be on the lookout for alternatives. But it’s damn hard not to at least contribute monetarily to the corrupted corporations and still make a living and buy the stuff you want.

  5. Allow me to add a note here. When I speak of “good” and whether or not man meets that criteria, I mean good in the absolutely perfect sense of the word. “Agathos” — Greek for intrinsically, perfectly good. Man is not that. We are so used to relative thinking that we can barely wrap our heads around the absolute. That is the problem.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Wisdom might be defined as applying absolute goodness to the real world.

      We know the real world. As Dennis Prager says, nature is not good. Nature is very brutal, amoral at best. And no animal, other than humans, builds hospitals. Where does this impetus to do so come from? One could say it comes from our ability to transcend mere nature and plant at least one foot in the absolutely perfect.

      And given that this world is not amenable to the absolutely perfect (indeed, it’s not clear that nature needs or even respects the absolutely perfect), we’re left in this difficult situation whereby having one foot planted in the absolutely perfect is desirable given the default footing. And yet how can mere creatures such as us, set adrift in a world of absolutely-non-perfect, gain an understanding of the absolutely perfect and (assuming this is possible) apply it in a way that does more good than harm?

      To me, that is the problem.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        People, being imperfect, cannot fully comprehend the perfect, but they can still work to achieve it even knowing they’ll never quite make it. Most of us don’t try too hard, but the possibility is always there.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Another way of saying this is to pursue excellence. This is something which can be done in all spheres of life moral, intellectual, physical, etc. We know we will never achieve perfection, but we continue to strive.

          I believe it is the natural state of mankind to be lazy and selfish. Society and culture in the best sense, help raise humans try to achieve improvement, to aim higher.

          Of course in order to aim higher or to improve, one must acknowledge that there is a “lower” and less “good.” This runs counter to the Cultural Marxist belief that there is no better or worse culture, society, morals, etc., etc. so there is no reason to try to excel. The libertarians are in on this too.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            We should all pursue excellence in at least something, Mr. Kung. As you noted recently, much of the horizon of a good life is taken up by simple and noble duty, so excellence isn’t everything.

            You and I (and Timothy) have no need of nuancing this idea of excellence. We’re not, of course, for perfectionism to the point of driving ourselves and everyone around us crazy. One of the truly excellent things we can do is to recognize that a safe, comfortable, predictable, non-threatening and honest mediocrity is how most of the things in the world get done on time and done well enough so that we don’t end up like this. There’s something to be said for “easy does it.”

            Your core truth about higher and lower is something that I think affects our pursuit of excellence (and might be the reason for so many crappy, unoriginal movies). To note that something is exceptional inherently means knowing (unless you are God Almighty) that there is something above you. This is a blow to the ego of the snowflakes who have been taught that just showing up is excellent. The gist of this culture is to normalize mediocrity (useful as that concept may be) and call it excellent.

            Jonah Goldberg recently noted in one of his articles an artist who canned his own shit and presented it as art. Goldberg noted that at some point (perhaps fairly recently) those tins-full-of-excrement sold for thousands of dollars. You can’t make this stuff up.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              As you noted recently, much of the horizon of a good life is taken up by simple and noble duty, so excellence isn’t everything.

              And I would even consider doing one’s duty, as opposed to shirking it, a type of excellence of character. Something to be proud of or at least to recognize and acknowledge one is doing what morally needs to be done.

              Sometimes, doing one’s duty can be the most difficult and disagreeable thing to do. That’s when it counts most and one sees the character of a man.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I had a summer job between my senior and junior years in college. The first task I had was some routine work off away from everyone else. I did it in a routine way, but I did it without slacking off. I was pleased to realize that I hadn’t shirked — until then, I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I think that committing to and doing such work shows what type of character one has. And the simple act of doing it, reinforces and builds good character, until it can become almost a habit, and a good one at that.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Good for you, Timothy. Just as they say that honesty is what you do what no one is watching, so it is regarding work. Yes, we want to be compensated fairly and our efforts treated with appreciation. But in this world, that doesn’t always happen. But the “work ethic” that conservatives always talk about is the inward need to do a job and do it well because we dishonor ourselves and the entire universe, if you will, by being a slacker.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Right. One doesn’t have to be able to draw a perfect circle to understand the concept of the perfect circle. Most people, of course, have a broken compass (and protractor). A Christian would say to pray and consult the Bible in regards to trying to start with the best circle-drawing compass that one could. A conservative, such as myself, would note the truth of this if only be seeing the effect of Cultural Marxism in getting people to draw lines as if they were suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

      • I totally agree with you about nature not being “good” or “perfect.” That observation dovetails nicely with the Christian doctrine of original sin, which points out that all of creation was negatively affected by man’s choice to disobey God and follow Satan’s leadership instead. Satan has spent all this time trying to prove that he can run the universe better than God can. Obviously, he’s wrong.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          If you’re agreeing with me, Deanna, you’d better double-check your work. 😀

          But seriously. I’m glad we can have this conversation because I’ve found most of the rest of the culture has gone deaf to the esoteric, the Divine, the wisdom in silence, the virtue of quiet, the beauty of contemplating and integrating the whole (which is terribly difficult and fraught with complications) instead of going down cul-de-sacs of easy certainty by dancing with narrow simplicity.

          I don’t know why the world is the way it is, both pro and con. But I do think as I’ve gotten older that I understand the task is to quit beating one’s head against the wall. The universe will never bend completely to our will (although it’s great to have a will and we can certainly do many wonderful and productive things with it). We must sometimes smile at disappointment and pain instead of defining ourselves by them. I think Robin said it best: “Holy chicken coop, Batman.” It’s the “Holy” part that is relevant which one online source defines as:

          The Hebrew word for holy is “qodesh” and means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness” and I would add that it should also be “otherness, transcendent and totally other” because God is totally above His creation and His creatures, including us.  Holy has the idea of heaviness or weight of glory.  In the New Testament, the word for holy is “hagios” and means set apart, reverend, sacred, and worthy of veneration.”  This word applies to God because God Himself is totally other, separate, sacred, transcendent, reverend, and set apart from every created thing.  Since God is spirit this is why the Third Person of the Trinity is called the Holy Spirit.  He too is fully God and all three Persons of the Trinity are holy and have the weight of glory abounding in them.

          Holy definition, Deana. I would say to get that one foot set in Heaven it helps to bow to something other than an iPhone. There’s no word that can truly describe what it is to look beyond the horizon toward the infinite although some call it “faith.” There are things larger than our egos, more permanent than worldly accolades. Does it really matter to at least sometimes to live a non-worldly life and to seek the Holy? Well, not if a garish tattoo collection is enough for one. But some want more, and not just due to the instinct of wanting but because of the desire to touch something not corrupt and ugly…which so much of this profane world relishes as earthly idols.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I would say that the non-human portion of nature is neither good nor evil. The daisy, the plague bacillus, the sponge, the hookworm, the honeybee, the cow, the wolf — they do what is in their nature to do. We may or may not like the results — but they don’t make a conscious choice. Unlike humans, they’ve never eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

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