Thursday, February 16, 2012


Interesting series on the question of conscience at the blog "Life With a German Shepherd"


All action is embodied. Even an imagined act requires some bodily function. One remembers what is actually done, and what one considers doing. Such memory is the content of one’s conscience – it is for this that one is responsible.

One’s whole experience of the world is expressed in one’s imagination – intellect, memory and creative will. One imagines bodily – one’s imagination contains all one has experienced in life, all one knows. Given that the world includes other than oneself, one can neither know nor even imagine all that is now, or has been, or will be beyond now.

Conscience considers all one consciously imagines (sub-consciousness is a matter for question). Imagination is the nexus between the real and the ideal. The content of imagination is the ideal against which one measures the real; one imagines some ideal world. The real is that which is true apart from how one imagines the world to be, one’s ideal world.

There is, however, much that is true but which remains unknown – much that is beyond knowing. The question whether there is the perfect Ideal haunts human imagination. Is Truth the perfect Ideal toward which one’s imagination strives to know? Perhaps. In any case, one must imagine what is True in order to know the Truth.

As one's imagination is grounded in reality, one’s own ideal is more possibly real. The mature human being is able to distinguish the real from one’s own ideal. The faithful imagination hopes any act one chooses to really do is congruent with that perfect Ideal – such congruency is love.

The act reveals the faithfulness of one’s imagination. All action is subject to judgment – good being that which is to be done (ought to be done). Thus the prayer of repentance: “Forgive us for what we have done and left undone.”

OTHER à creation

à LIFE (birth embodied sensual function) àSELF à experience embodied sensual function à imagination à belief idea / idea belief à CONSCIENCE à

consideration perspective à expression BODY: sensual function

à communication symbolic à }RELATIONSHIP{ß OTHER

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good. Good? Good!

What is good? This question opens my discussion of Christian Ethics each semester with students who are required to take the course. How that question is answered shall be the on-going subject of this post (which I shall revise and edit throughout the course of the semester).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where is the promised parousia?

Scoffers in their scoffing have come in these last days
- worldly people,
driven by deep distorted desire, divisive, devoid of the Spirit.

Jesus said
“You are not permitted to know the times or periods
that the Father has set by his own authority.
But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses ...
to the farthest parts of the earth.”

After this,
he was lifted up while they were watching,
and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were still staring into the sky while he was going,
when suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them
and said,
"Men of Galilee,
why do you stand here looking up into the sky?
This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will come back …"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Greatest Commandment

Consider the question: what is the greatest commandment. What do you think yourself concerning this question? Does your answer have some other reference other than your own thoughts? What is your primary reference for thinking about this question? If Scripture, why? Where does Scripture support what you think about the greatest commandment?

The following is somewhat representative of what a number of students answered in class: Love God above all else and love others as yourself. How is this statement like or unlike what you think? Consider something I said in class the other day - it is good to be able to turn one's face towards God. Following from this will be the ability to face others as well (see the story in Genesis recounting the renaming of Jacob after he struggled with God prior to his reconciliation with his brother Esau).
One perceives oneself properly by giving priority first to God, then others:
Read Mark 12:28-34.

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"

Jesus replied, "The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.' And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Why do you believe what you believe? To what cultural community does your conception of life conform? Might there be some need for transformation so that such conception can be renewed so to give priority to what God considers to be good? Read Romans 12 (consider this chapter within the context of the whole book, especially verses 16-21 of chapter 1, verses 13-25 of chapter 7, verses 24-28 of chapter 8, and verses 8-10 of chapter 13).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

RANT: Using the f-word ...

It disgusts me how quite a number of you (you know who you are) use the f-word so much. Doing so is mindless a best, perversely obscene at worst. It does not matter that what you write may be a snippet of some stupid pop song lyric - need you spell it out? Can any of you explain this to me?
    • ME:
      Please don't go researching what someone else may have written on this subject - I can do that myself, thank you. Why do you do it? I dare say that most of you have no clue - you just do it, much like the way you blunder through life in other ways. For those of you who take delight in using such language, for shock effect perhaps, why does it matter to you? What are you accomplishing?
    • FRIEND A:
      ‎"Fig" is my f-word. "Fish" works too, but when I hear "shut the front door" as an exclamation, I get figgin' angry.
    • I said "fig" a lot this morning, too. I rescheduled the Fun(d)raiser, by the way. Sunday, Jan 30. Too many folks driving, rather be safe than sorry.
    • FRIEND B:
      Overuse of any rhetorical device, not just profanity, is indefensible, and profanity is a particularly strong spice, easy to overuse. When onstage performing purely for adults, I sex up my jokes quite a bit. Even then, I pretend someone couldn't get a babysitter and there are two pre-teen girls in the front row. The resulting innuendo plays stronger than profanity. So I avoid profanity completely when on stage.

      That being said, sometimes it IS called for, and one must say "f[edit]".
    • When performing magic as a Christmas elf, I say "Awww frostbite!"
    • FRIEND C:
      It shows a lack of tact and poor communication skills on the part of the individual. It's a cheap way to vent, IMHO
    • FRIEND D:
      Shock does seem to be one part of it, and perhaps another part is a demonstration to the other party that I refuse to be constrained by the thoughtless rules of society---that I recognize and will fully exercise the` freedoms of my society, and that I'm not likely to allow someone else's sense of propriety dictate my behavior. In fact, giving others so much power because we fear their judgement is to my mind one of the greatest problems facing our society today. So I don't really plan to give up use of the word anytime soon, but I do tend to be rather judicious in its use.

      Help me understand something, by the way: why is the word 'f[edit]' obscene and not to be allowed on television but the word 'kill' is AOK?
    • FRIEND B:
      ‎@FRIEND D: That bothers me too. To put a finer point on it, why is "f[edit]" obscene but "rape" is just swell? One describes an act that can be jolly good mutual fun, the other is an act of pure evil.
    • FRIEND E:
      It demonstrates a perversity of mind which is at once misogynous, rebellious and crass lewdness; the Bible, Old and New Testament, describes and condemns this sort of habitual speech; the consequence is not only the coursening of our society but the demeaning of young men and women, and their nascent idea of sex and marriage; such speech becomes habitual with the speaker self-righteously offending critics by defending, and rationalizing, their ugly habit as they often find even sharper ways to deliberately offend others as if it were their duty to do so. I would warn any women in the vicinity that such pornographic speech should be a red flag concerning the character, and probable lecherous imagination and even intentions, of the one caught in this sad habit. At the very least it is discourteous and impolite, and offensive as I am certain this statement will be to those who read it. Good news: Jesus can clean up our speech as well as our imaginations and life through a renewing of the mind and heart by the Spirit of Christ Jesus Who, as the Bridegroom, will someday return for His Bride and the consummation of His Kingdom.
    • ME:
      Thanks for the comments. Some of my own thoughts in response:
      - "Fear" can have the meaning of respect - one constrains how one speaks in respect for others. The presence of another defines the ethical boundaries one sets for oneself.

      - Performance presents a whole host of issues that are worthy of further discussion. How and how much does one consider one's audience as an "other" to be respected as would be expected in human relationship?

      - The words "rape" and "kill" are not used in the same way as the f-word. That argument does not address my question. As I understand it, "evil" describes a basic breach of relationship between persons - an act is evil when it cannot be ordered to the good of the other person. Using a word is an act of communication; what is being communicated and why?

      - Why is it that the term "adult" so often describes what is actually immature? For example, an "adult" bookstore caters to those who lack the maturity to be sexually responsible [sexual responsibility meaning developing a mature relationship properly so that the persons therein may freely participate in "an act that can be jolly good mutual fun"]. I understand how an adult audience is expected to be mature enough to choose how to respond to information presented to them and mature enough as well to resist becoming malformed by that information. My concern is that too many people are NOT resisting such malformation more and more, becoming conformed to what is other than good.

      - I am aware of my own cultural bias [see my brother's comments above] in how I respond to the f-word. Given my desire to remain friends with those from diverse cultures, I am willing to risk being exposed to what other friends of mine may not be willing to tolerate. However, toleration has its limits and this discussion is intended to explore those limits. In writing that "It disgusts me how quite a number of you (you know who you are) use the f-word so much" I suppose I mean that I find it intolerable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The following "conversation" happened on-line over a few days following a walk in a National Park with a friend:
Per our discussion in the park regarding responsible intervention - I am still pondering what you had to say, wondering whether it is ever right to ignore apparently irresponsible behavior. Acting to intervene is always risky, depending on one's relationship to the other. It often is a question of power and authority, is it not? Is one ever wise enough to determine how responsible another one might be?
March 23
    • MY FRIEND:
      What's apparently irresponsible behavior? Every action is risky. It tramples on human dignity to take responsibility for their actions, unless they have given you that authority. By entering the park we gave the guards that authority. Were I a guard, I would prefer to warn instead of command and help people learn their limits rather than dictate limits.

      I think there's more dignity for us in that.
      March 24
    • ME:
      How would "warning" be preferable to "commanding," especially if one is in a position of command? Helping people learn their limits is laudable, but is it possible without some determinative dication that is decisive in defining limitation? How can one be helpful if one's decisions are merely ideally-based opinons unrelated to real limits? The law of gravity is not subject to opinion; one falling from some height may get hurt.

      Help is related to humility. One humbles oneself in order to accept help. On the other hand, pride goeth before a fall.
      March 24
    • ME:
      Pun intended.
      March 24
    • MY FRIEND:
      Right. So I would accept the help after I broke my arm from the fall. The limit is defined by my mental and physical ability, which he does not know.

      He should have told me to put my shoes on too. I might have hurt my feet.
    • ME:
      I suppose it really is a matter of trusting those in positions of authority. Judgment is the duty of one trusted with authority. You seem to have found the judgment of this Park "person of authority" to be faulty in that he failed to judge us responsible enough to continue our apparently irresponsible behavior without some authoritative intervention. One wonders why he made that judgment, but more the wonder is why we should be so quick to second guess his authoritative judgement?

      Might the fault be more in our arrogant conceit than his authoritative command? Believe me, Lord knows I am no mild-mannered milquetoast always ready to be subject to those in authority - but meekness can be a virtue when one's heart is truly humble. To be able to submit to authority is something to which Christians are all called. To everything there is a season - a time to submit, a time to resist subjection.
      March 24
    • ME:
      I suppose it is just frustrating to consider oneself fully responsible, then have to confront someone else who seems to not share that same consideration. My father taught me the following statement that may be relevant to this discussion: "Evil is the tertium quid of two autonomous minds." What good can come of a conflict of wills? How is compromise with integrity possible?
      March 24
    • MY FRIEND:
      Is meekness submitting to authority?
      March 24
    • ME:
      Meekness is being wise is one's action, considering well one's strength and weakness. The one who is strong must take care in how to exercise one's strength; the one who is weak must take care in exerting oneself. For example, just because one can act with great strength, does not mean one must - I have a loud voice, but I can control my volume so that I do not speak too loud (anyone who knows me is aware of how I continue to struggle with this - getting older doesn't mean I've matured as much as I've aged!). The more mature one becomes, the more one can control one's capabilities, constraining one's actions in accordance to one's conscience. Meekness is a sign of maturity.

      Our model for meekness, of course, is Christ Jesus himself. "He could have called ten thousand angels, but He died alone to set us free." Constrained by His great love for us, God in Christ considered death by crucifixion over conquest by human might. Philippians 2:8 tells us: "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

      Imitating His example, we die to self so that we may love the other. Meekness helps us be wise in how we might heed the Word in Romans 13:1-5, which tells us:
      "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

      "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

      "Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake."

      The chapter ends with these words:
      "Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."

      Following the flesh is folly for we, created in the image of God and re-created according to the character of Christ, are more than flesh. By grace we can overcome the furor of the flesh to act responsibly toward others who provoke us, especially those in authority. That is what it means to be meek.
      March 25
    • ME:
      Pray for me that I may learn meekness myself.
      March 25