Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sonnet: Amazing Riches

The following poem was written by ninth-grade homeschool student "J.S.," who is well familiar with Ephesians 2:8-9, which states the following:

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In the sonnet, J.S. also alludes to the ninth chapter of Acts, which relates the conversion of Saul (later renamed Paul) as he traveled the road to Damascus.


Amazing Riches

For why have we been shown the gift of grace?
His gift to us presents no earthly sense;
Labors of man render most vain pretense;
His power over hell man’s sins erase;
Failed efforts of man, His mercies replace.
Our natures of evil do stage expense;
But His blood and choice, the dues recompensed
So that by grace through faith, Him will we face.
The path to grace for us the Book explains:
The journey to heav’n Paul traveled in vain,
And he believed that he could find the way;
But Paul’s eyes opened and Truth did convey.
Mercies we long for, no works will obtain.
Sweet mercy from God—gift given, not gained!
—Contributed by J.S.
Image hosting by Photobucket

The Exaltation of the True Cross, 1733
National Gallery of Art

156 Comments:

At 4/13/2006 10:05 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Certainly a time in the liturgical calendar to remember mercy given but also a time to remember the acts of mercy which we are more and more failing to perform as a people.

 
At 4/13/2006 10:36 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Like freeing 50 million people from the tyranny of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Baath fascists in Iraq. Very unmerciful of us.

(rolls eyes)

 
At 4/13/2006 10:48 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Like I say Beamish.

Yeah, we liberated Iraq.

We have truly lost our way as a nation.

Did you check out Condominium Rice ocer in Equatorial Guinea the other day. The country is in the top three of Human Rights Watch's list of rights abusers. This is the guy that had a row of crucifixions on the road from the airport to his palace.

Condominium Rice is in a photo op calling him a "good friend". Hint: They have oil.

Afghanistan was liberated. Bet you believe women no longer wear Burqas and are no longer subjected to Shari'a. I really think you are so unaware that you believe it.

Child mortality is up a third in Basra (a relatively stable city)since the occupation. They can even get IV fluids to treat diarrhea and you call it "liberation".

We are a freakin' sorry people.

 
At 4/13/2006 11:32 AM, Blogger Romeocat said...

AOW, beautiful - simply beautiful! JS obviously has a lot of talent and is very articulate. Boy, I hope my Darling Munchkin can live up to this standard!

May the blessings of Easter grace your life, and thanks so much for posting this!

"He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!"

-- R'cat
CatHouseChat.com

 
At 4/13/2006 11:38 AM, Anonymous themerrywidow said...

Indeed, if it wasn't for that Grace, I would just hang it up!
Blessed Easter to all! Remember, it may be Friday but Sunday's on the way!!

tmw

 
At 4/13/2006 12:01 PM, Blogger Freedomnow said...

Ducky,

What a gratuitous piece of misinformation. Basra is a lot better off than it was before the invasion. It was suffering from the UN sanctions and Baathist oppression. Besides it is located in a third world country. We have spent billions rebuilding the country, but we cannot be expected to completely rebuild their country while maintaining our own and spreading money to deserving nations around the world. You are unrealistic because it suits your politics.

It is silly that you Socialists cant make up your mind if the US is trying to overthrow the government of E. Guinea or they our puppets. After all it was the target of an attempted coup in 2004 that your Trotskyist allies accused the Pentagon of being involved with. You guys are obsessed with oil, oil, oil.

HRW was complaining that the UN Commission on Human Rights voted to stop monitoring of human rights abuses in Equatorial Guinea because of improvements like the abolishing of the one party system and freedom of religion. I am NOT saying that the country is a paradise, but the US closed its embassy to the country for six years to protest the human rights situation. It has improved from the days of rampaging terror under President Macias. Your data must be from 1968, not 2006.

You are exaggerating again Ducky. If you are lost then buy a map.

Or better yet you can donate to charities that help the Iraqis and their children.

http://www.iraqkids.org/

http://www.operationiraqichildren.org/

http://www.spiritofamerica.net/

http://www.iraqpartnership.org/cb/iraq/index.html

Ducky was lost, but now he is found...

 
At 4/13/2006 12:34 PM, Blogger Freedomnow said...

Oh and about Afghanistan. That country is a democracy and the people are free to do as they want.

I may not like what they do with their freedom, but that is their right. I cannot force my western values on them the way Socialists push their values.

 
At 4/13/2006 1:24 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I like the poem but like James said "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?"

 
At 4/13/2006 1:26 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Ducky said..."This is the guy that had a row of crucifixions on the road from the airport to his palace."

It's not a very long road.

 
At 4/13/2006 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AC,

I suspect that nary a man can be saved without it (faith).

-FJ

 
At 4/13/2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On "Divine Grace" from Wikipedia (Faith vs Works)...

Tension between grace and works in the New Testament

The New Testament exhibits a tension between two aspects of grace: the idea that grace is from God and sufficient to cover any sin, and the idea that grace does not free Man from his responsibility to behave rightly.

Many parables of Jesus preach grace broad enough to forgive any sin, and to be available regardless of the seeming unworthiness of its recipient. Examples of this included the parable of the Prodigal son and lost sheep. However, Jesus also said:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." -- the introduction to the Antithesis of the Law in the Gospel of Matthew

Later, St. Paul of Tarsus wrote that For by grace ye are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) For St Paul, salvation, like the wages of the labourers in the parable, is God's gift at God's sole prerogative. Were it achieved by works (erga; any human effort that intends earning; see Rom. 4:4), men could take pride in their efforts toward holiness, and God's gift of grace would be diminished in contrast to man's efforts. This stands in tension to his teaching in Romans 2:6:

"To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life. But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God."

A more works-oriented perspective is presented by the Epistle of James 2:1-26 [3], concluding that faith without works is dead. By "works," James here appears to include both acts of charity, and righteousness according to the code of laws; the preceding text mentions charity to the poor as well as sins against the law of Moses. An inward change, the forsaking of old sinful ways, and being reborn in a spirit of generosity is to James the true test of conversion. Without these things, claiming to have "faith" is a sham. Grace must be something that steels the Christian to avoid sin and practice charity. Without these signs, it seems likely that grace was never there.

The First Epistle of John maintains this tension throughout. On the one hand, it repeatedly claims that those who "walk in the light" do not sin and do enjoy fellowship with God, while those who "walk in darkness" have no fellowship with God. However, it also describes receiving forgiveness of sins through confession and God's grace. Verse 3:4 (NIV) states: "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness."

However, a true study of Biblical teaching will show that in reality, there was no tension. The contrast between "faith" and "works" is really a contrast between Grace and the Law for salvation.

Paul was dedicated to stamping out the efforts of the Judaizers, who taught that Gentile believers must follow the Law of Moses to achieve Salvation. It was in this context that Paul spread the truth about Salvation being achieved through grace, not works. However, Paul, as well as Peter, John and James, make it clear that believers are to continue doing good works, and following the teachings of Christ, for example the Sermon on the Mount, out of love and obedience to God, who has written the law on the hearts of believers. Whilst works and keeping the Law are no longer the basis for salvation, they are still essential for living a Christian life and obeying the commands of God. Thus, the teachings and writing of all the apostles are not in tension, but rather harmony, with each other.

Efforts to resolve the tension
People have attempted to describe and resolve the tension in a number of ways. One potential resolution revolves around Jesus's parable of the talents in Matthew 25. In this parable, the Master decides to leave town on a journey. He left five coins with one servant, two coins with another servant, and one coin with a third servant. While the master was gone, the servants given five coins and two coins invested their coins, and doubled the money. The servant given one coin, however, buried it in the ground, and made no money. When the Master returned, the servants who had invested gave their master the money they had earned. The Master said:

"Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.' However, when he came to the last servant, who had hidden the money, the Master became angry, shouting:

'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
According to proponents of this idea, this parable illustrates how grace and works can coexist. All the servants owed their money to their master, because the master had given them the money. Therefore, they could not take any pride in their money, just as Paul argued that we are saved by grace and not works, so that no man should boast. However, all the servants were still responsible to use their gifts and grace to the glory of God. Failure to do so is sin, just as to James, "Faith without works is dead."


-FJ

 
At 4/13/2006 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you can see from AC's comment above, J.S., some subjects (G_d's Grace, for example) are extremely nuanced and difficult do justice to given the severe limitations of the form. I admire the boldness of your attempt. You're at an age where temerity, if it was that, can be a virtue. Regardless, you set and achieved a very high mark, and that is laudable in itself.

Whatever you do, don't stop shooting for like marks, and never get discouraged...for, as AC has commented and the Wikipedia article has confirmed "all the servants were still responsible to use their gifts and grace to the glory of God. Failure to do so is sin, just as to James, "Faith without works is dead." And you have been given a gift.

So anyways and always, keep up the good works. I've got faith in you!

-FJ

 
At 4/13/2006 5:23 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

"And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples: "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them: "Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."

Could you imagine the chances of a rich lawyer?

 
At 4/13/2006 6:29 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
The tension between the doctrines of grace and faith go back to the earliest days of Christianity. To a certain extent, that tension still exists today as evidenced by different denominations.

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were types of Christ and pointed to the blood redemption of the Perfect Sacrifice; unforunately, human nature being what it is led people to regard the sacrifices as status symbols of sorts and to focus on the act of bringing the sacrifices instead of understanding the purpose of those sacrifices. And we are all familiar with Jesus' attitude toward the merchants who sold sacrificial animals for profit. Also, ritual, with all its comforting aspects, can sometimes blind one to the essence of the meaning.

Of course, Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who did their good deeds for all to see, thereby also engaging in the sin of pridefulness. Those filled with pride see no need for grace.

Salvation through grace gives the glory to God and not to man--one of the points which J.S. was obliquely making, I think. After justification, the good works should pour forth. The saved should not be sitting back, smugly and feeling superior.

Paul addresssed one problem in the early church, James another.

J.S. is not a poetry lover, yet did very well on this assignment. J.S. is quite a deep-thinker; not long ago, he and I had a brief email chat about the concept of man's free will. As I recall, the reading assignment which got J.S. to thinking about that topic was an excerpt from Blackstone.

I can't wait to get J.S.'s take on Hamlet!

all the servants were still responsible to use their gifts and grace to the glory of God. Failure to do so is sin--Think of the ramifications of that in the classroom!

 
At 4/13/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Iran Watch,
Could you imagine the chances of a rich lawyer?

LOL!

 
At 4/13/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Thanks for your encouraging words to J.S.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:34 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Crusader,
As you rightly point out, Biblical doctrines are difficult to understand. FJ provided some interesting info on the grace vs. works conundrum.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

R'Cat,
Boy, I hope my Darling Munchkin can live up to this standard!

See the standard high. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Easter blessings to you!

 
At 4/13/2006 6:41 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
We all should perform acts of mercy, but warfare doesn't easily lend itself to such.

Of course, J.S. was speaking on a personal level rather than on a national or international one.

Furthermore, Saddam wasn't into showing any mercy. His inflated ego (and lack of self-worth?) led him to do horrific things to the people of his own nation. From his earliest days as ruler of Iraq, he had some kind of fantasy to be Nebuchadnezzar II, or at least he so bragged.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:42 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beamish,
Duck has a way of making many of us roll our eyes. I suspect we make him roll his eyes as well. Hehehe.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Freedom Now,
Ducky was lost, but now he is found...

Prodigal son?

 
At 4/13/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger dag said...

AOW, I have a friend from our Thursday night meetings who is now a contributor to my blog. Here's my blurb:

I have a new contributor to my blog as of today. His name is Charles. He's one of those who meets on Thursday evenings to hash out a programme for changing our general social approach to Islam and our current dhimmi view of ourselves as the evil West.

If you will, please stop in and say hello. Charles is a very nice guy, writes well, and is full of enthusiasm. I'm happy to have him contribute. I'm sure he'll make my blog more readable.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:46 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Dag,
Thanks for letting me know about your new contributor. I'll be stopping by.

'm sure he'll make my blog more readable.

Actually, I stop by your site fairly often. I don't always leave a comment, though.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:55 PM, Blogger nanc said...

someone give me plucky's eyes and i'll roll them back at him!

afternoon everybody.

back in a bit.

 
At 4/13/2006 8:00 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

I think James was saying that we are to glorify G*D by living in a way that shows we have received grace. There is nothing more repulsive than a legalist(and yes I am guilty of behaving that way) even though I'm trying to make fewer of those errors every day!

tmw

 
At 4/13/2006 8:54 PM, Blogger nanc said...

we are ALL as the thief on the cross when we become saved by grace - what we do with our grace determines how many crowns we receive (5 in all) - some of us will be refined as IF by fire. our works although are NOT what get us to the kingdom, will define us once we are there. i did a recent study on the crowns and if i can find it will post it here.

have been working with the kids to get a flat tire fixed - yikes! i think tomorrow i will take the road grader away from the goon that's been destroying the road with it.

 
At 4/13/2006 8:56 PM, Blogger nanc said...

p.s. please tell your student to keep up with his writing. it is quite unusual that a 14-15 year old could expound so well on some very difficult text. kudos to him and to you aow. i'd be puffed if i were you.

 
At 4/13/2006 10:52 PM, Blogger Lawman said...

This was written by a 9th grader? Wow! What a great piece of uplifting poetry.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

 
At 4/13/2006 11:37 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Ducky's been miserable ever since he realized Goofy and Pluto are unequal dogs.

 
At 4/14/2006 12:28 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Wonderful AOW! My compliments to the author and to his teachers!

About:
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."

In Catholic mass many, many years ago the priest described this passage as though a camel would have to go through the eye of an actual needle. (ie:impossible) What had been explained to me years and years earlier was that the 'eye of the needle' is actually a gate - a gate which a camel could pass through only if it got down on it's knees. I still can't see many rich lawyers getting down on their knees though. ;-)

Everyone have a wonderful holiday!

 
At 4/14/2006 12:35 AM, Blogger nanc said...

and i bet he thought pluto was a planet!!!

 
At 4/14/2006 7:38 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Lord love you nanc! If you weren't a contrary it would be boring as all get out! Not that YOU would(or could) ever be boring! Come to think of it, I'm going to have a blast meeting in person all sorts of wonderful people when we get home!
AoW-The timing was perfect for that sonnet, many thanks!
HE is risen!

tmw

 
At 4/14/2006 7:46 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
My students produce a lot of blog-worthy work. I occasionally put their work up here at this site. I insist that the students remain anonymous, and each students chooses as to whether or not comments should be open. So far, every student has chosen open comments.

i'd be puffed if i were you.

I try not to be!

 
At 4/14/2006 7:49 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Lawman,
This was written by a 9th grader? Wow! What a great piece of uplifting poetry.

Thank you!

Teacher's motto: "No assignment too large, no grade to small."

Challenging students to reach high is one secret to good teaching. Sure, they occasionally whine. I, too, sometimes whine when I have to grade all those papers; working on grades is how I've been spending much of my Easter vacation.

 
At 4/14/2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mr. Beamish,
Ducky's been miserable ever since he realized Goofy and Pluto are unequal dogs.

That, and the fact that Goofy and Pluto chase ducks.

Is Duck going to allow his own roasting over at Beak's? If so, specialists in one-liners are going to have a blast. I'm not much good at those one-liners and will have to enlist my husband's assistance.

 
At 4/14/2006 8:09 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Monica R,
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God."

I've heard that gate-interpretation.

Another interpretation: "With God, all things are possible."

 
At 4/14/2006 8:09 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
A different avatar now?

 
At 4/14/2006 8:56 AM, Blogger nanc said...

well, warren DID create it just for me. i feel as though i've been dressed by cassini! it doesn't make me look fat, does it?

 
At 4/14/2006 9:38 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

No dah'link, you look mah'vlous! Everyone is going to be positively green! Those little custom jobs are so worth it!

tmw

 
At 4/14/2006 11:51 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
Your avatar is skinny-minny. Not to worry.

 
At 4/14/2006 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everybody,

Right, so, I guess I will address the whole faith/works issue.

American Crusader said...
“I like the poem but like James said ‘What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?’”

The answer is yes.

The Bible explains that once you have “faith,” that is believing that Jesus is Lord, that “faith” is a guarantee that cannot be broken. No matter how many or how few works you do, your eternity is secure with the Lord. Works are not what makes the deal happen, however.

The Bible goes into detail in how the path to Heaven is not gained by works. I think Ephesians 2:8-9 says it best, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” The verse just explained in plain terms, man cannot receive “grace” to get to Heaven on his own. No amount of works will award him the salvation needed to live eternally in Heaven. No matter how good you are, how powerful you are, or how much money you have, none of those qualities will guarantee you a seat in Heaven. If you think it was a matter of “goodness,” then wouldn’t people like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and the like, just “vanish” into Heaven for being so overwhelmingly good? Following the same Logic, wouldn’t people of absolute power like Saddam Hussein, Hitler, and Mussolini “disappear” from earth and magically appear in Heaven? Finally, do you think people who have excessive money can “buy” their way into Heaven? (If you can buy your way in, Bill Gates must have missed the memo) Obviously no one like I mentioned did magically disappear. So the only other alternative is that Grace is a gift from God and not a prize to be won.

Isaiah 57:12
“I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.”

Apparently, works aren’t the “way” to Heaven. So what is then?

John 14:6
“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father (meaning Heaven) except through Me.”

What John just explained is that since works won’t cut it, the only other way is God. And how do you take this way? By believing that Jesus did indeed die on the cross for our sins and He is the only risen Savior. That is the ONLY way to Heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, works are important. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Just believe that “works,” that is being good, going to church, donating to charity, etc…, is not what gets you to Heaven. Those “works” are holy and pleasing to God, but they do not secure eternity.

Thank you for your time in reading this lengthy comment,

God Bless America and Happy Easter!

J.S., the writer of Amazing Riches

P.S. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I have been busy with Easter homework, (cough, cough)AOW.

 
At 4/14/2006 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new avatar has certainly captured your eyes...<^..^>
although the old one's rolled better.

-FJ

 
At 4/14/2006 12:07 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Enlarge Nanc's avatar to see interesting details. According to Warren, this avatar is a "Contrary." Info about Contraries is at Warren's site.

 
At 4/14/2006 12:11 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

J.S.
Easter homework was kept to a minimum. Just think what I COULD have assigned! LOL.

I, too, have a lot of homework. I'm almost finished with the Ivanhoe analyses and have made some progress with the timed essays. The sequels/alternate endings will have to wait. I will do my Hamlet reading over the weekend. I got the history tests graded early on.

 
At 4/14/2006 2:06 PM, Blogger nanc said...

fern's avatar did make my butt look big!

 
At 4/14/2006 2:06 PM, Blogger nanc said...

p.s. i AM NOT contrary. usually.

 
At 4/14/2006 2:15 PM, Blogger nanc said...

thanx farmer!

 
At 4/14/2006 3:16 PM, Blogger nanc said...

and i almost forgot to thank aow, hostess with the mostess, and tmw for her blessings and when are you going to commission your own custom avatar by warren, avatar god?

 
At 4/14/2006 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J.S.

I might also point out and contrast the nature of "faith" or "soul" with/against the nature of "action" or a "deed". (but Caveat Lector...let the reader beware, what follows may not agree entirely with Christian doctrine... it is derived largely from my own Platonism).

Even an Opus Dei (Work of G-d, ie -our physical universe) is somewhat impermanent, and works of men... (O quam cito transit gloria mundi!- Oh how quickly passes the glory of the world!). The ancient philosopher Heraclitus noted the ever changing and mixed nature of the physical universe and coined his famous aphorism "Panta Rhei" (Everything is in flux) to describe it.

But a thought, a "faith", a "product of mind", even though seemingly insubstantial and constructed entirely of "spirit" and perpetuated only by sign, word or number, is more in keeping with the pure nature of the absolute and eternal.

Although the scrolls upon which the Roman poet Horace once wrote no longer exist, some of his thoughts, like "Non omnis moriar" (Not all of me will die), are still with us to this day. And they are in remarkably better condition (as far as any deterioration or change goes) than many other ancient "physical" works, such as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Thought also "usually" preceeds action (Eventus stultorum magister - Events are the teacher of the stupid persons) and may pre-exist eternally (ie - in the Mind of G-d) "a priori" (before experience), even if man can only know, can only sense them, a posteriori (after experience).

This also helps one to better comprehend man's fallen (and mixed, not pure) nature and condition stemming from original sin, to be forced to learn through bitter experience, and not always directly through His Word (we are banished from the Garden of Eden for eating the bitter fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil...call it from hubris or excessive amour propre (Rousseau, "Emile" - Book 1).

And so the "path" to a return to G_d's presence, by His Grace, is thought to have been "illuminated". Through faith, not works (although one follows the other) auxilio Ab Alto - By help from On High.

Fides quaerens intellectum - Faith seeking understanding

Est autem fides credere quod nondum vides; cuius fidei merces est videre quod credis - Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. (St. Augustine)

Finis coronat opus - The ending crowns the work. (Ovid)

-FJ

Ad majorem Dei gloriam (AMDG)

 
At 4/14/2006 4:30 PM, Blogger nanc said...

well, f.j. - sounds like the laws of thermodynamics at work HERE. of course, evolutionists will deny them. we are not getting better and we are all suffering from terminal illness. i look forward to the unfolding events. in all things give thanks.

He is not here, for He is risen.

O.T. - this just in two hours ago:

http://news.yahoo.com/fc/world/iran

iran threatening israel AGAIN!

 
At 4/14/2006 5:11 PM, Anonymous themerrywidow said...

Was watching "Narnia" with family, we always have to end with bloopers! nanc- I don't believe Warren knows me well enough to impose on him. And I have no clue as to what I come across as. A watchman on the tower? I'll think about it, also I don't really know how to tech it! Got to go get ready for church, later all and be well!

tmw

 
At 4/14/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger nanc said...

perhaps we could ask him to spy on you, you know, it could be a covert operation where nobody knows about it but him. we can act like we don't know he's lurking and be on our best behavior...NAWTTTTTTTTTT!!! besides, i haven't figured out what my best behavior is! almost fifty, to boot!

we watched narnia last weekend and although it was visually excellent and the storyline very good - i'm not much into fantasy - i like real to life movies like "the jerk" and "dragonheart".

aow - i left you a message on the mo post - it seems to be growing by the day.

 
At 4/14/2006 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nanc,

...and ontologically speaking (from an old Platonist)

He is Risen, indeed!

-FJ

 
At 4/14/2006 7:01 PM, Blogger benning said...

J.S. is doomed to failure as a poet, AOW. We cannot abide rhymes in poetry - too old-fashioned, y'know - or sonnets. After all, they are a Euro-centric and archaic art form. Not accessible to enough folks.

Sheesh!

Y'know, it only takes one of these posts to make me feel quite stupid, untalented, and wholly inadequate!

*sigh*

Dead on poem! Dead on! Well written! Bloody nifty!

 
At 4/14/2006 7:02 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

He's coming back to kick all ass, too.

 
At 4/14/2006 7:03 PM, Blogger nanc said...

thank you for that, f.j. now i must go read "allegory of the cave", again. it's been nearly 30 years. i do believe you've re-awakened a longing to know the philosophers better. we definitely cannot trust our senses as they were intended to be trusted. deceitful they are. i was about thirty before i understood what my father meant by, "believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see."

 
At 4/14/2006 7:04 PM, Blogger nanc said...

yes beamish. that's part of the plan.

 
At 4/14/2006 7:05 PM, Blogger nanc said...

dayam, thanks to warren, i'm cute!

 
At 4/14/2006 7:41 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Eloquent and beautiful.

Thanks, AOW!

 
At 4/14/2006 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nanc,

And I guess you prove the contrary again...that you can teach a new dog old tricks.

;-)

-FJ

 
At 4/14/2006 8:53 PM, Blogger nanc said...

woof-woof, f.j. good friday to you and yours.

 
At 4/14/2006 8:56 PM, Blogger nanc said...

beamish has not allowed this day to passover without letting us in on why. great post at beamish.

 
At 4/14/2006 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you nanc! And you have a Happy Easter.

-FJ

 
At 4/14/2006 9:18 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Benning76- J.S. did not fail as a poet! He was spot on, it's the idiots who dictate culture who have no taste, even in thier mouths! Just because they are past such 'immature' conventions, as internal rhythm, rhyming, or even little things like coherence. It takes more discipline to be concise, orderly, rhythmic within a defined form,i.e. a sonnet than in drugged out ramblings! It's the old 3rd Law of Thermodynamics again, it takes more energy to instill or impose order than chaos! That is one of the things that bugs me about the majority of leftists, they don't always want to spend energy and thought in doing the right thing!

tmw

P.S. Church was awesome, glad we went!
tmw

 
At 4/15/2006 12:09 AM, Blogger nanc said...

uhm, tmw - please go back and read through benning76 post. you may wish to borrow my avatar when you do. gbu and gwg.

 
At 4/15/2006 7:17 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Benning 76,
Don't feel inferior; not all can write rhyming poems. One of my best friends is a professional poet, but most of her work is free verse.

J.S. doesn't aspire to be a good poet (as far as I know), but does aspire to good grades.

Writing a sonnet requires great self-discipline.

 
At 4/15/2006 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nanc-Actually I did read it all, just sick of the culture I'm swimming against! I ranted, okay? And yes benning I do "know" L. Long! What a character, I'm sure the author lurks under the skin.
Church was wonderful, we have been making do with concrete floors and water stains from the '04 hurricanes, so tomorrow will be special because we will be dressed up for Easter. Service last night was by candlelight and we served each other the bread and wine, very close and intimate family time!
Sunday's on the way!

tmw

 
At 4/15/2006 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fj,

After reading your post, I was left wondering what exactly you mean by the "mixed nature." What are the components of this nature and how do they interact? Are you referring to the interaction between man and God?

You also said, using the example of the physical universe, that Opus Dei, works of God, is a combination of the work of God and of the work of man.

I understand how the universe is impermanent and that man interacts with its ever-changing properties, but I do not understand how man could be involved in its creation. Is that what you believe, or are you referring to the interaction between man and God in the physical universe?

J.S.

 
At 4/15/2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JS,

More of the latter...

I wasn't trying to say that man had a hand in the creation of the universe. If I gave you that impression, please forgive me. I was trying to contrast the "longevity" associated with a work of G_d (the universe - many billions of years old) and the typical works of men, which seldom last much longer than it takes for mankind to perform them.

And regardless of "who" made them, that works or creations by their very nature are not "eternal", or "infinite" in any physical/material or 3-Dimensional form, although they may be so in "other" ways.

As so in response to your first question, as to what I meant by the "mixed nature" of the universe, I'm not sure I'm fully up to the task, for it's a little more complicated than stating some cute aphorism's like "Mind over Matter".

Perhaps I should start with a description by the philosopher Plato on how one should go about defining "classes" from his dialogue entitled "Philebus (On Pleasure)...

SOCRATES: Let us be very careful in laying the foundation.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: Let us divide all existing things into two, or rather, if you do not object, into three classes.

PROTARCHUS: Upon what principle would you make the division?

SOCRATES: Let us take some of our newly-found notions.

PROTARCHUS: Which of them?

SOCRATES: Were we not saying that God revealed a finite element of existence, and also an infinite?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Let us assume these two principles, and also a third, which is compounded out of them; but I fear that I am ridiculously clumsy at these processes of division and enumeration.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean, my good friend?

SOCRATES: I say that a fourth class is still wanted.

PROTARCHUS: What will that be?

SOCRATES: Find the cause of the third or compound, and add this as a fourth class to the three others.

PROTARCHUS: And would you like to have a fifth class or cause of resolution as well as a cause of composition?

SOCRATES: Not, I think, at present; but if I want a fifth at some future time you shall allow me to have it.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.


Now think of the "finite" and "infinite" as two (out of perhaps many) "pure" yet completely opposite and unlike substances (or perhap one a "spirit") sitting on a shelf in separate beakers in some chemist's laboratory. There is nothing finite in the beaker containing the infinite, and nothing infinite in the beaker containing the finite. Now imagine one day a "chemist" mixes the contents of both beakers in some measured harmonious "proportion" or "ratio" into a flask as part of an experiment. That mixture contains a little bit of the infinite, mixed with a certain measured quantity of the finite.

And that, is how the ancients saw the universe... as a mixture of sorts, and G_d as the "Chemist". (It is also where idea's like matter:anti-matter drives in Star Trek come from)

And just so you don't think this too improbable, I want you to note that there is a "place", of sorts, where "perfect", "pure", "eternal", "enduring", "absolute" and "unchanging" things can exist. And that "place" is only accessible to the human mind. The ancients frequently referred to this "place" or "thing" as the "soul" and frequently did not distinguish it from "mind" and "thought".

For example, in geometry, you learn about a equilateral triangles, points, lines, etc.. It is not possible to "create" or "produce" or "reproduce" perfect examples of these forms physically. But it IS possible to imagine them mentally (ie - two parallel yet infinite lines that never meet) and for them to exist in mind AS spirit.

So these are some of Plato's beautiful forms. They are not "of" this universe, and can exist (purely and perfectly) only in "soul/ mind". Perfect squares, triangles, physic's equations (e=mc^2), etc. from mathematics, but also systems of laws and ideal governments based upon "word forms" exercised by a logical process similar to mathematics called dialectic.

I'm sure I only scratched the surface of this topic. Others have done the subject much greater justice than I can. But perhaps one day, JS, you'll pick up some of Plato's (or some less-modern philosopher's) dialogues, and explore some of these ideas and concepts more fully.

But for now, I wouldn't recommend you do so, its' not for everyone. Wait until you're married, and perhaps have a few children of your own. The truths of some things are not always readily apparent until one has "lived" a little and gained some life experience and and corresponding responsibilties.

I hope that helped. But if not, keep asking and I'll try and explain things a little better. It makes us old folk feel useful.

;-)

-FJ

 
At 4/15/2006 3:10 PM, Blogger nanc said...

great exchange, f.j. and j.s. - i like to believe the interaction between G-d and man is that we are His tools, but it is how WE wish to be used that He (being all knowing) considers. although He knows what is best for us, sometimes He allows us our way so that we learn what error is. i know on a number of occasions, i've said, "G-d, you've got to be kidding, right...???" i was left to my devices and was not so happily left wrong. that is how we gain an ear for His word.

thank you again. woof-woof.

 
At 4/15/2006 5:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

J.S. is a debate student. Can you tell?

J.S. is fearsome in a debate round.

Great discussion here, F.J. and J.S.

 
At 4/15/2006 6:57 PM, Blogger nanc said...

truly, aow, truly.

my son loves debate, but his school does not have debate in its curriculum so he drives his teachers nutz debating them! he's far right also which is sometimes scary. trying to keep him balanced is like trying to imagine howard dean without the red face and bulging temple veins!

 
At 4/15/2006 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is always a pleasure to answer a question for which the answer is honestly sought. For I believe that teaching is an impossible task, but learning... that is another thing entirely (Plato, "Meno" -Can Virtue be Taught?).

-FJ

 
At 4/15/2006 9:19 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
teaching is an impossible task

Yikes!

Just kidding...I get your meaning. Thanks for taking the time to offer a serious student explanation. J.S. is quite a deep thinker, well beyond chronological age.

 
At 4/15/2006 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and nanc, I DO believe that G_d intended us to have free will... and made us in His image...and that our existance has meaning and purpose.

-FJ

 
At 4/15/2006 9:26 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
"And God created man a little lower than the angels." He does indeed love us and so proved through His Son.

Easter blessings to you!

 
At 4/15/2006 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes always... I meant that it required a "receptive" student (I've certainly no business trying to explain that difficulty to YOU). We no longer "beat" them to force them to learn. ;-)

You're lucky to have such outstanding students, AoW.

btw - Happy Easter.

-FJ

 
At 4/15/2006 9:34 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Yes, I knew what you meant. I am lucky, indeed, to have the opportunity to work with my students.

Later.

 
At 4/15/2006 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I was trying to contrast the "longevity" associated with a work of G_d (the universe - many billions of years old) and the typical works of men,"
HOw can you contrast the two? it seems to me that creating a universe is a tad bit superior to "works" of mere man. And I do believe you agreed that God created the universe.

Do you believe mankind is "predestined," everything is pre-decided, and time waits for man to do what he was "planned" to do?

"And regardless of "who" made them, that works or creations by their very nature are not "eternal", or "infinite"
First of all, how do you know this? Are you God? Are you eternal? How can you state that something "is" or "isn't" eternal unless God (who I believe we both agree is "right") or someone else who has equal "power" (I don't personally believe another such person exsists) said that something is or isn't eternal. HOw can man, with an average life of 75 years, know how long something exists?

As for "finite" and "infinate." I follow you with the two seperate "beakers" on a shelf, but I lose you there also. Because how can there be a middle point between these two extremes? I do believe the definition of each of these extremes has no half-way point. So what exactly is this magical middle ground (or class if you wan't to keep it with the philosophers). I mean, its all well and good that these mixtures are "combined" in talk and philsophy, but I find it hard to place these in a realistic world. I completely understand how this is philosphy, however, I feel "good" philosophy applies to daily life. Otherwise, isn't it effectively irrelevant?

"And just so you don't think this too improbable, I want you to note that there is a 'place,' of sorts, where 'perfect,' 'pure,' 'eternal,' 'enduring,' 'absolute' and 'unchanging' things can exist."
You say this place is in the human mind (soul). Are you basically saying this is a place "away" from God where we can have are own thoughts? A "soul" that is completely unconnected from God's thoughts?

"So these are some of Plato's beautiful forms. They are not 'of' this universe."
If they are of this special "soul" and only exist "purely" and "perfectly" in another universe, how is it relevant to our earthly lives. Its wonderful to think about such things, but I feel its important to connect them to actual life.

Don't get me wrong, out of the box thinking is a beautiful thing. I do it all the time (just ask AOW) I just feel that when we start using another “universe” separate to God, were headed the wrong way. Searching for unanswered questions is awesome, but how are we going to know if the answer we find is the right answer?(Especially when God is out of the picture)

I don’t know how close your relationship with God is (or if you even have one…I don’t know you personally, obviously) But, for me, straying from what I know is right, only takes me to places I don’t need to be. For instance, I have recently (as AOW mentioned in a previous post) have thought of the topic of man’s free will. This is a very controversial topic in Christian circles. You are either a cynic, or the people who accuse you of being a cynic in this argument. From what I have read, the Bible doesn’t really directly say whether or not we have free will. (For those of you who question this argument, show me where it is in the Bible and I will concede. Oh, and I didn't plan to go into the free will argument in this comment, but if anyone is interested in expressing their opinions, I would love to hear them)Man, however, (including myself) feel we have the knowledge and wisdom to figure it out on our own. This is where it becomes dangerous. We leave God out of the picture and effectively put ourselves as someone who choose the answer we want. Anyway, to get to the point, I was (until recently) under the impression that we don’t have free will. Yes, I know, I am an evil, cynical person…whatever. I changed my opinion, however, not because the opposing side finally convinced me, but because I realized that the answer I got, came from (my) human logic (as does the opposing side's). Since, the Bible (or God) does not directly say we possess ( or don’t) free will, then we can't know. Unless we go beyond God, and feel we are important and smart enough to figure things out ourselves. Were all insignificant sinners remeber...I admit to being one also (no one is spared...buwhahaha(evil laugh(you have to have a little humor on these things otherwise they become boring). I don’t know about you, but I know I am not smart enough to make a statement that isn’t backed up by my God. I've tried that, and have become shockingly awakened to the error of my ways.

I understand exactly how you feel, fj. I enjoy figuring out problems in mankind as much as you do. I just feel, when we find an answer, how do we know its the right answer, its fruitful to spend time on it (I have a problem with the time one), and its an answer holy and pleasing to GOd.

Thank you for your time,

J.S

If I have offended you in any way, I apoligize. This comment is not meant in any way to be condescending (after all, I am the young one) or saying that your opinion is "wrong." I am just sharing my views on such a topic. I respect your views entirely even if they differ from mine.

 
At 4/15/2006 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"...and nanc, I DO believe that G_d intended us to have free will... and made us in His image...and that our existance has meaning and purpose."

I believe we have a God-given purpose in life, also. I disagree with the free will ,however. I would enjoy hearing your views on freewill.

J.S.

 
At 4/16/2006 12:30 AM, Blogger nanc said...

that's a tough one, j.s. we have free will - that much i know. picture an infant about to take its first steps - we set their feet upon the floor and point them in a direction we want them to go and they stumble in the opposite direction and take off. soon, they discover they enjoy the direction they've taken above the direction we'd have liked for them to have gone.

i believe G-d allows us this. He is rooting for us as we stumble away from Him. His arms are always open to us even as we walk away from Him. He knows the outcome, but we do not.

we have to remember, He is waiting on us, not us on Him. there are so many mysteries surrounding G-d that if we tried to figure an nth of them they would drive us mad.

also - there are no new words from G-d available to us at this time. perhaps He's working on the next manual with us as His examples. and i'm sure it's not to point out how it SHOULD be done.

 
At 4/16/2006 7:17 AM, Anonymous themerrywidow said...

nanc- Well put!
J.S.-G*D back in Genesis said"Let US make man in OUR image." What is G*D's image? It is creative(you exhibited that in your sonnet) and HE is free...Roms.12:2 states 3 stages shall we say of HIS will. Good, acceptable and perfect. Rarely we may exhibit HIS perfect will(by HIS Spirit) and we hopefully are growing from good to acceptable as we mature in our walk! You've shown a very good start on that!
Enjoy the day-for HE is risen indeed!

tmw

 
At 4/16/2006 7:38 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

J.S. will likely be busy most of today. But as this student is interested in the issue of free will, J.S. probably will check back when possible, I think.

I'll be busy with Easter and family today.

 
At 4/16/2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nanc and Merry widow,

“we have free will - that much i know.”
Again, how do you know this? Did God personally tell you? Since it is not “spelled” out in the Bible (not just hinting, but directly told) how can we know?

“Genesis said 'Let US make man in OUR image.' What is G*D's image?”
I believe that being made in the image of God (which I know we are) does not necessarily guarantee we have free will. Why? Because we don’t know God personally. (Being made in His image is not being made out of all of Him. That is why we aren’t perfect, eternal, and whatnot) All we know, is what He tells us in His Word. And, since His word does not directly say whether or not we have free will, how can we know?

“picture an infant about to take its first steps - we set their feet upon the floor and point them in a direction we want them to go and they stumble in the opposite direction and take off.”
This is a wonderful example, but let me just use this as an example I am used to. My example involves whether or not we have the “free will” or ability to choose our fates over Heaven or Hell. (I tried to represent both side accurately)

Pro-free will feel that if man does not possess free will, then God essentially predestines man’s fate. In other words, God says Johnny goes to Hell, Susie goes to Heaven. (harsh, I know but I will explain more later)

Anti-free will feel that there is no other alternative to predestination. Why, because God (as the Bible says) knows when we sit and lie down before we even act, our ability for free-choice is taken away. Our actions are already pre-decided, aren’t they? If the outcome is already known, then there is no choice anymore.

Since pre-destinantion also involves the deciding of eternal fates, many believe God would not do such a thing. I am not saying God does sentence people to death (remember I am neutral on this topic), but even if he did, aren’t subservient to God? Shouldn’t we humbly accept any fate our Creator, who shaped, molded, and breathed life into us, desires? Do we with our Earthly, fallen perspectives have any right or privilege to even question whether God can sentence us to death? (remember God is the one who put capital punishment in place originally) He did create us after all, shouldn’t He be allowed to do with us as He pleases? Furthermore, isn’t free will blasphemous to have the ability to “choose” Hell over Heaven? BY having this ability, don’t we eliminate God from the picture creating ourselves as someone who has the “power” to choose our own fates? Thats not right either...

I feel that since there is no solid “evidence” it is wrong to take it upon ourselves and use our “human” logic to figure things out. Since this topic is so complex and it isn’t directly mentioned, I feel there is no way we can know (until we are there in person to ask Him) whether or not we have free will.

Hope you all have a Happy Easter,

J.S.

 
At 4/16/2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

J.S.- Good arguments! But I detect a touch of Calvanism rather than Armenianism. I believe that G*D runs everything as a combo of the 2, in a manner of speaking. Myles Monroe teaches that since G*D exists in the Eternal Now, HE can not only see but act now, in the past and in the future at the same time. To HIM it is always NOW. Also since HE is outside of time HE can act outside of it. As for free will, why does Paul and others write of our choices in salvation and behavior, i.e. righteousness or unrighteousness, glorifying G*D or not etc. By implication, as you get older you will find that what you think is implied is explicitly stated when you see the depths of Scripture. Also experiencing G*D's actions in your life, or HIS lack of acting because of your choices. Implication is not invalid, it invites digging deeper! Logic is necessary, but temper it with intuition. Intuition is an aspect of your regenerated spirit. G*D is logical but HE is also known intuitively. Of course our free will is limited, just as creators we are limited compared to G*D. Who can compare to HIM? We are blessed to be included in HIS work, you appear to be making a good start on that! To be the best you can be is glorifying G*D, to use your gifts to make a difference is glorifying G*D! I hope we continue to hear from you and about you!

tmw

 
At 4/16/2006 3:44 PM, Blogger nanc said...

i do know this, j.s. - when i'm not walking in His way, doing His will, i've paid dearly a time or two. as you point out, He is ALL knowing and we do tend to play G-d at times.

i'm a parent as is G-d. He has the edge on me because He knows the beginning from the end and vice versa. i don't know what will happen in the next minute. at the end of the book of john it is stated that what was not written of Jesus would fill volumes.

it is also written that G-d wishes that no person perish. there is too much to know in our finite minds. if we don't have free will, then how do we know to choose wisely? certain events are set in stone, those past and those to come.

very interesting subject matter and will probably stir the fires of controversy from now until the end - when we do get to ask if we had free will. you are right, we should not play G-d - that's His job.

 
At 4/16/2006 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JS,

An attempt to respond...

How can you contrast the two? it seems to me that creating a universe is a tad bit superior to "works" of mere man. And I do believe you agreed that God created the universe.

Yes, I do believe that G_d created the universe, and that His Magnum Opus is vastly superior to anything mankind could ever create.

Do you believe mankind is "predestined," everything is pre-decided, and time waits for man to do what he was "planned" to do?

I do believe that certain things are “predestined” in so far as G_d has established certain natural laws that regulate the operation of the universe. But I do NOT believe that “everything” (an absolute with no exceptions) has been specifically planned (i.e. the thoughts and actions of individual men and women). And I think that in the course of their daily lives and interactions, mankind fulfill His purpose.

"And regardless of "who" made them, that works or creations by their very nature are not "eternal", or "infinite"…First of all, how do you know this? Are you God? Are you eternal? How can you state that something "is" or "isn't" eternal unless God (who I believe we both agree is "right") or someone else who has equal "power" (I don't personally believe another such person exists) said that something is or isn't eternal. How can man, with an average life of 75 years, know how long something exists?

You’ve taken what I have said slightly out of context by parsing off the end of my sentence, but I will respond. I said that “physical” works or creations were neither infinite nor eternal. I know this because it really is one of the few things mankind really can “know”. I understand it a posteriori because scientists have been able to demonstrate that the physical universe experiences “entropy”. But more importantly, I know it a priori because you would agree, wouldn’t you, that the universe was created, had a “starting point”, and therefore could not be, by definition, “eternal” (an absolute again- related to time) or “infinite” (an absolute without physical ends for which we have just defined one end - creation).

As for "finite" and "infinite." I follow you with the two separate "beakers" on a shelf, but I lose you there also. Because how can there be a middle point between these two extremes? I do believe the definition of each of these extremes has no half-way point. So what exactly is this magical middle ground (or class if you want to keep it with the philosophers). I mean, its all well and good that these mixtures are "combined" in talk and philosophy, but I find it hard to place these in a realistic world. I completely understand how this is philosophy, however, I feel "good" philosophy applies to daily life. Otherwise, isn't it effectively irrelevant?

I guess I should have been clearer in my example. I did not mean to imply that a perfect “compound” was necessarily achieved in an “absolute” and totally distributed “physical” sense. I meant to imply that they could both co-exist simultaneously…call it a material-spiritual relation if you will. And you’ll find that many schools of philosophers divide themselves into similar schools…Materialists like Marx…and something that includes and acknowledges the real existence of “spiritual” elements like Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists. And so whereas “gravity” might be a physical force of attraction (directly detectable by scientific instruments), you can find “love” as a correlate spiritual force of attraction (directly undetectable by scientific instruments). Materialists are largely in denial about the existence of the latter. And of course, the Greeks are well known for having anthropomorphized many of the former (ie. Venus or the “Theogeny” of the poet Hesiod).


"And just so you don't think this too improbable, I want you to note that there is a 'place,' of sorts, where 'perfect,' 'pure,' 'eternal,' 'enduring,' 'absolute' and 'unchanging' things can exist." You say this place is in the human mind (soul). Are you basically saying this is a place "away" from God where we can have are own thoughts? A "soul" that is completely unconnected from God's thoughts?

Actually, I prefer to think (speculate) of it (soul) as a spiritual “piece” or “force” of the mixture that comes from God’s invisible realm (Beaker B - containing absolutes and infinities) that has been (perhaps in a physical sense) separated from it, but retains perfect “memory” of it and is a sort of “touchstone” (or philosophers stone, if you prefer) that lends our minds knowledge of the absolute and infinite elements of spiritual realm, so that we have guidance in a physical and “relative” world (Plato, “Meno” - Knowledge is remembering). It helps us understand things like big, bigger, biggest, huge, immense…the “absolute big” which can’t be found in the physical universe, but can only exist in “mind” and help guide us through life and acquire understanding. I think that even if in a “physical sense”, soul were separated from G_d, G_d is completely un-changing and permanent and perfect (Plato described a kind of “motionless motion”, a second order and slightly decayed/altered example might be a “spinning sphere” that appears from a relative distance to be motionless, but really isn’t), and so the question is largely irrelevant, epistemologically speaking. And when our mind has a “moral” question (right-wrong), or question of truth, it can “touch” this “stone” (or piece of soul) and will then “choose” to regard or disregard the knowledge it derives from it (free will).

"So these are some of Plato's beautiful forms. They are not 'of' this universe."
If they are of this special "soul" and only exist "purely" and "perfectly" in another universe, how is it relevant to our earthly lives. Its wonderful to think about such things, but I feel its important to connect them to actual life.

Actually, there are many applications of this concept to everyday life (all thoughts to future and of past). The philosopher Plato was greatly influenced by the Pythagoreans, who, as you may or may not know, practiced mathematics “religiously” and held it “sacred”. Show me anywhere in the physical universe something that is “equal” in all (an absolute term) respects to something else. Two snowflakes? Identical twins? Upon closer examination, you will always find minute differences and inequality.

Take the word “tree” for example. You understand what I mean by a tree. But what is a “tree”, but a mental form called a “word” that we apply to a cover class of objects with similar (but not equal) characteristics [Plato, “Cratylus” (On names)]. Or take a standard of measure as another example (ie – what is the “inch” upon which this unit of measure is based?). Or even a physics formula such as e=mc^2. Or take a “perfect government” or “utopia/ distopia” for another example. These forms (or idea’s about future possibilities) may not “exist” in our universe, but they can serve to help us obtain an understanding of our own.

Don't get me wrong, out of the box thinking is a beautiful thing. I do it all the time (just ask AOW) I just feel that when we start using another “universe” separate to God, were headed the wrong way. Searching for unanswered questions is awesome, but how are we going to know if the answer we find is the right answer?(Especially when God is out of the picture)

Perhaps this is where you misunderstand me. I do not claim that the spiritual realm is any way a “separate universe”, more of an invisible (and infinite) extension of G_d’s “realm” into our own “limited” physical universe. And it is because of this, the “right” answer can emerge, and G_d is never out of the picture.

I don’t know how close your relationship with God is (or if you even have one…I don’t know you personally, obviously) But, for me, straying from what I know is right, only takes me to places I don’t need to be. For instance, I have recently (as AOW mentioned in a previous post) have thought of the topic of man’s free will. This is a very controversial topic in Christian circles. You are either a cynic, or the people who accuse you of being a cynic in this argument. From what I have read, the Bible doesn’t really directly say whether or not we have free will. (For those of you who question this argument, show me where it is in the Bible and I will concede. Oh, and I didn't plan to go into the free will argument in this comment, but if anyone is interested in expressing their opinions, I would love to hear them).

Just wanted to add an observation here. The Bible leaves many of its’ greatest truth’s unstated. I look to G_d’s “actions/deeds” in the Garden of Eden story in Genesis in addition to His Word as evidence that He created mankind with free will. If mankind did NOT have free will, how could Eve have eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil? How could this have angered G_d? How would it be possible to “surprise” G_d in ANY way if all were predestined? And this is what leads me to conclude, yes perhaps erroneously, that man’s exercise of free will forms a “part” of His Purpose.

Man, however, (including myself) feel we have the knowledge and wisdom to figure it out on our own. This is where it becomes dangerous. We leave God out of the picture and effectively put ourselves as someone who choose the answer we want. I agree with you entirely. This is one of the reasons I have no desire to see young people rush into the practice of philosophy, for it frees the mind to contemplate some extremely dangerous and ugly ideas and possibilities. And until one has experience AND responsibilities, it is possible (and even likely) for one to be tempted to make many choices “apart” from G-d.

Anyway, to get to the point, I was (until recently) under the impression that we don’t have free will. Yes, I know, I am an evil, cynical person…whatever. I changed my opinion, however, not because the opposing side finally convinced me, but because I realized that the answer I got, came from (my) human logic (as does the opposing side's). Since, the Bible (or God) does not directly say we possess ( or don’t) free will, then we can't know. Unless we go beyond God, and feel we are important and smart enough to figure things out ourselves. Were all insignificant sinners remeber...I admit to being one also (no one is spared...buwhahaha(evil laugh(you have to have a little humor on these things otherwise they become boring). I don’t know about you, but I know I am not smart enough to make a statement that isn’t backed up by my God. I've tried that, and have become shockingly awakened to the error of my ways.

There have been a number of philosophers who denied free will (like Nietzsche). But if you ever get a chance to read a little philosophy, I recommend you pick up a book by the English philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin entitled “Four Essays on Liberty” to explore what an actual “denial” of free will might really mean in the way we talk, act, and think. Human use of “language” would actually be something completely different (it’s one of the reason’s why Marx’s concept of Historical Determinism was pre-destined for failure and could never be entirely accepted in the old Soviet Union) from what it actually is and how it is commonly used. And I believe AoW can give you some insight as to how differences in the use and conventions of language have influenced Islam and their ideas vis a vis pre-destination (and I’m not saying that there is NO pre-destination at all, I simply say that it is not “complete” and “total/absolute”).

Nietzsche had an allegory for the situation you describe. Man as a rope walker. Like some biblical writers, Nietzsche (a devout atheist) leaves much of his message “unstated”…

"Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman--a rope over an abyss.

A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting.

What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is
lovable in man is that he is an OVER-GOING and a DOWN-GOING."

---

"Then, however, something happened which made every mouth mute and every eye fixed. In the meantime, of course, the rope-dancer had commenced his performance: he had come out at a little door, and was going along the rope which was stretched between two towers, so that it hung above the market-place and the people. When he was just midway across, the little door opened once more, and a gaudily-dressed fellow like a buffoon sprang out, and went rapidly after the first one. "Go on, halt-foot," cried his frightful voice, "go on, lazy-bones, interloper, sallow-face!--lest I tickle thee with my heel! What dost thou here between the towers? In the tower is the place for thee, thou shouldst be locked up; to one better than thyself thou blockest the way!"--And with every word he came nearer and nearer the first one. When, however, he was but a step behind, there happened the frightful thing which made every mouth mute and every eye fixed--he uttered a yell like a devil, and jumped over the other who was in his way. The latter, however, when he thus saw his rival triumph, lost at the same time his head and his footing on the rope; he threw his pole away, and shot downwards faster than it, like an eddy of arms and legs, into the depth. The market-place and the people were like the sea when the storm cometh on: they all flew apart and in disorder, especially where the body was about to fall."

---

And so, as much as I can appreciate your desire to stay within the confines of the tower (for it was constructed to assure the safety of the many), just beware that the safety it affords is not absolute either…. for others are venturing forth from their towers, and it is important to understand them (but you don’t have to follow them), and one day, when you have learned and explored the contents of your tower completely, you may be sufficiently equipped to attempt a crossing and a return. But don’t be impatient, for as you can see, the journey is very perilous, even for the cautious logical reasoner.

I understand exactly how you feel, fj. I enjoy figuring out problems in mankind as much as you do. I just feel, when we find an answer, how do we know its the right answer, its fruitful to spend time on it (I have a problem with the time one), and its an answer holy and pleasing to GOd.

Perhaps it begins by knowing that there are many things which we cannot actually know, and can only surmise, and let “faith” lead us in the actions we take.

Thank you for your time,

My pleasure. Thank you for your interest, and time.

If I have offended you in any way, I apoligize. This comment is not meant in any way to be condescending (after all, I am the young one) or saying that your opinion is "wrong." I am just sharing my views on such a topic. I respect your views entirely even if they differ from mine.

JS, I have spent a LOT of time arguing with people on the internet, and there is very little that offends me (even being patronized for I know I appeared to put in a few digs about age and experience which you probably perceived as my being condescending). But please, if you think my opinion (and often, it is mere opinion) is wrong, continue to challenge it, for you do me the favor of exposing my many faults and mistakes to me, and that is why I am here too. I want to learn. They say that in ancient times, men would listen to the oaks themselves, if only they spoke the truth. And I am willing to listen to the ancient oak as well as stripling, if only they speak truthfully. No offense taken, and hopefully none given either. For I do not revel in the prospect of turning young men into rope-walkers, hence I do not try and encourage young men to become philosophers or lead them astray from their religious belief’s. I was hoping to help affirm some of those beliefs, albeit from a slightly different perspective.

-FJ

 
At 4/16/2006 9:29 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I have spent a LOT of time arguing with people on the internet, and there is very little that offends me

I've seen a bit of the above. LOL. I took the day off today, so I have yet to catch up here with all the comments here, which I've barely skimmed. I'll catch up tomorrow as it's getting late tonight.

What you and J.S. have been discussing are profound matters. Answers are not easy. As I've gotten older, I've decided to understand as much as I can in this life, then leave the rest to answers in eternity. Call my approach "trust." As Nanc put it: very interesting subject matter and will probably stir the fires of controversy from now until the end.

I do not revel in the prospect of turning young men into rope-walkers, hence I do not try and encourage young men to become philosophers or lead them astray from their religious belief’s.

J.S., as I've said before, likes to discuss abstract matters. J.S.'s perspective comes from deeply held convictions; open discussion will help to support and refine them, I think. Nothing like exercising one's brain!

Good night.

 
At 4/16/2006 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some excerpts on "soul" from Plato, "Theaetetus"...

SOCRATES: And is not the bodily habit spoiled by rest and idleness, but preserved for a long time by motion and exercise?

THEAETETUS: True.

SOCRATES: And what of the mental habit? Is not the soul informed, and improved, and preserved by study and attention, which are motions; but when at rest, which in the soul only means want of attention and study, is uninformed, and speedily forgets whatever she has learned?

THEAETETUS: True.

SOCRATES: Then motion is a good, and rest an evil, to the soul as well as to the body?

THEAETETUS: Clearly.

SOCRATES: I may add, that breathless calm, stillness and the like waste and impair, while wind and storm preserve; and the palmary argument of all, which I strongly urge, is the golden chain in Homer, by which he means the sun, thereby indicating that so long as the sun and the heavens go round in their orbits, all things human and divine are and are preserved, but if they were chained up and their motions ceased, then all things would be destroyed, and, as the saying is, turned upside down.

THEAETETUS: I believe, Socrates, that you have truly explained his meaning.


---

SOCRATES: A question which I think that you must often have heard persons ask:--How can you determine whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?

THEAETETUS: Indeed, Socrates, I do not know how to prove the one any more than the other, for in both cases the facts precisely correspond;--and there is no difficulty in supposing that during all this discussion we have been talking to one another in a dream; and when in a dream we seem to be narrating dreams, the resemblance of the two states is quite astonishing.

SOCRATES: You see, then, that a doubt about the reality of sense is easily raised, since there may even be a doubt whether we are awake or in a dream. And as our time is equally divided between sleeping and waking, in either sphere of existence the soul contends that the thoughts which are present to our minds at the time are true; and during one half of our lives we affirm the truth of the one, and, during the other half, of the other; and are equally confident of both.

THEAETETUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: And may not the same be said of madness and other disorders? the difference is only that the times are not equal.

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And is truth or falsehood to be determined by duration of time?

THEAETETUS: That would be in many ways ridiculous.


---

SOCRATES: But through what do you perceive all this about them? for neither through hearing nor yet through seeing can you apprehend that which they have in common. Let me give you an illustration of the point at issue:--If there were any meaning in asking whether sounds and colours are saline or not, you would be able to tell me what faculty would consider the question. It would not be sight or hearing, but some other.

THEAETETUS: Certainly; the faculty of taste.

SOCRATES: Very good; and now tell me what is the power which discerns, not only in sensible objects, but in all things, universal notions, such as those which are called being and not-being, and those others about which we were just asking--what organs will you assign for the perception of these notions?

THEAETETUS: You are thinking of being and not being, likeness and unlikeness, sameness and difference, and also of unity and other numbers which are applied to objects of sense; and you mean to ask, through what bodily organ the soul perceives odd and even numbers and other arithmetical conceptions.

SOCRATES: You follow me excellently, Theaetetus; that is precisely what I am asking.

THEAETETUS: Indeed, Socrates, I cannot answer; my only notion is, that these, unlike objects of sense, have no separate organ, but that the mind, by a power of her own, contemplates the universals in all things.

SOCRATES: You are a beauty, Theaetetus, and not ugly, as Theodorus was saying; for he who utters the beautiful is himself beautiful and good. And besides being beautiful, you have done me a kindness in releasing me from a very long discussion, if you are clear that the soul views some things by herself and others through the bodily organs. For that was my own opinion, and I wanted you to agree with me.

THEAETETUS: I am quite clear.

SOCRATES: And to which class would you refer being or essence; for this, of all our notions, is the most universal?

THEAETETUS: I should say, to that class which the soul aspires to know of herself.

SOCRATES: And would you say this also of like and unlike, same and other?

THEAETETUS: Yes.

SOCRATES: And would you say the same of the noble and base, and of good and evil?

THEAETETUS: These I conceive to be notions which are essentially relative, and which the soul also perceives by comparing in herself things past and present with the future.

SOCRATES: And does she not perceive the hardness of that which is hard by the touch, and the softness of that which is soft equally by the touch?

THEAETETUS: Yes.

SOCRATES: But their essence and what they are, and their opposition to one another, and the essential nature of this opposition, the soul herself endeavours to decide for us by the review and comparison of them?

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: The simple sensations which reach the soul through the body are given at birth to men and animals by nature, but their reflections on the being and use of them are slowly and hardly gained, if they are ever gained, by education and long experience.

THEAETETUS: Assuredly.

SOCRATES: And can a man attain truth who fails of attaining being?

THEAETETUS: Impossible.

SOCRATES: And can he who misses the truth of anything, have a knowledge of that thing?

THEAETETUS: He cannot.

SOCRATES: Then knowledge does not consist in impressions of sense, but in reasoning about them; in that only, and not in the mere impression, truth and being can be attained?

THEAETETUS: Clearly.

SOCRATES: And would you call the two processes by the same name, when there is so great a difference between them?

THEAETETUS: That would certainly not be right.

SOCRATES: And what name would you give to seeing, hearing, smelling, being cold and being hot?

THEAETETUS: I should call all of them perceiving--what other name could be given to them?

SOCRATES: Perception would be the collective name of them?

THEAETETUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Which, as we say, has no part in the attainment of truth any more than of being?

THEAETETUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: And therefore not in science or knowledge?

THEAETETUS: No.

SOCRATES: Then perception, Theaetetus, can never be the same as knowledge or science?

THEAETETUS: Clearly not, Socrates; and knowledge has now been most distinctly proved to be different from perception.

SOCRATES: But the original aim of our discussion was to find out rather what knowledge is than what it is not; at the same time we have made some progress, for we no longer seek for knowledge in perception at all, but in that other process, however called, in which the mind is alone and engaged with being.

THEAETETUS: You mean, Socrates, if I am not mistaken, what is called thinking or opining.

SOCRATES: You conceive truly. And now, my friend, please to begin again at this point; and having wiped out of your memory all that has preceded, see if you have arrived at any clearer view, and once more say what is knowledge.

THEAETETUS: I cannot say, Socrates, that all opinion is knowledge, because there may be a false opinion; but I will venture to assert, that knowledge is true opinion: let this then be my reply; and if this is hereafter disproved, I must try to find another.


-FJ

 
At 4/16/2006 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodnight always.

Goodnight J.S.

Goodnight nanc.

Goodnight John Boy.

Zzzzzzz

-FJ

 
At 4/16/2006 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just one question for you all

Why do you personally feel free will is so important to have?

Before answering please think of this matter for a little while. I am curious to what your (farmer john, nanc, merry widow, and anyone else who has been reading these comments) might say. It will give me a base (from your exact wording) to construct my side of the argument.

J.S.

 
At 4/16/2006 11:21 PM, Blogger nanc said...

that is some farmer!

what was greatest about the philosophers was their sheer determination to be wrong, yet know more. always yearning for knowledge. they weren't afraid to be shown a "better" truth and even welcomed the followers of Christ in their quest for knowledge. may we ALL seek to be proven wrong and find delight when we are not. or vice versa.

so you know, i believe truth is truth and there really are NO grey areas.

i've enjoyed the exchanges between j.s. and f.j.

thank G-d for the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth that our sins would be covered.

 
At 4/16/2006 11:29 PM, Blogger nanc said...

without even thinking about it, j.s. - i do not want or desire or need people to love and live for me because i tell them to.

i can make my children do just about anything - but i'd much rather give them choices and allow them to come to their own conclusions. this they do out of their love and devotion to me as their parent. what we've instilled in them is in direct proportion to what we get back.

robots are not what G-d seeks in his followers. of course there is the verse which states that "only a fool in his heart says there is no G-d." some of us are fools and some are not. if we know Him, we want to please Him.

 
At 4/17/2006 7:58 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

J.S.- G*D is so great and awesome, HE doesn't NEED us. HE created us for relationship with HIM. You cannot have a relationship unless the "other" has the ability to say no, I DON'T WANT YOU! Anything less is slavery! Yes, our humanity imposes limits, but limits do not lessen the right of refusal! Why were the angels who rebelled treated to NO redemption? Is it because thier creation was for a different purpose than ours? Were they not created to be servants and ministers? Therefore they did NOT have the right of choice?We were created to show G*D's perfect justice, mercy and actions to both the rebelling and faithful angels? We were created to prove G*D's point at the place of question in the angels minds. By choosing G*D we refute Satan's contention that G*D was not fair! G*D is not fair BUT HE is right and perfect in everything, we cannot see the whole picture, we can't we are too small. All we see is the back of the embroidery, all knots and tangles and loose ends. We don't see justice, but if we look carefully we will see mercy, grace, forgiveness, life, joy, peace, we will receive insight and a peace that passes understanding. Joy will be our strength, why do I call myself the merry widow? Because I have something beyond me carrying me! Why do I not react the way widows are "supposed" to act? Because I have choosen to use the resources at my disposal because I CHOOSE to! I didn't have to, lots haven't. Even in strong churches I am considered an anomaly. Why? Because I CHOSE! How can I choose? Because the choice was offered. Why was the choice offered? Because the right of choice was given! Why was the right to chose given? Because it is a function of free will. Sometimes it must be experienced not studied. HE knows the choices I make before I make them, "from the foundation of the world", but that doesn't invalidate them, because I didn't know the choices I would make beforehand. An infinite G*D can make your head hurt, but it is good to know HE wants to do for you because HE loves you! Sometimes that's all we have, but it is enough in the midst of the battle called life!
Sometimes the only answer is Jesus.
Good morning all, have a blessed day!

tmw

 
At 4/17/2006 8:05 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Goodnight always.

Goodnight J.S.

Goodnight nanc.

Goodnight John Boy.

Zzzzzzz


You were a fan of The Waltons? I never missed a single episode when that program was on. Simpler times, in many ways.

 
At 4/17/2006 8:07 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Merry Widow,
An infinite G*D can make your head hurt, but it is good to know HE wants to do for you because HE loves you!

We can agree on that!

I cannot fathom the mind of God, so I trust Him as well as my sinful nature will allow.

One of the advantages of getting older is being able to trust the Lord more fully. At least, that's how my spiritual life has been.

 
At 4/17/2006 8:11 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
thank G-d for the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth that our sins would be covered.

Yes, that concept works for me. My mind worries about certain doctrines, but my soul accept whatever is the Lord's will. Tough sometimes as the internal battle rages, but as I mentioned to TMW, the battle doesn't rage so much now. In my youth, I thought and felt differently.

 
At 4/17/2006 8:11 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
Are you familiar with the old hymn "Have Thine Own Way, Lord"?

 
At 4/17/2006 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a personal standpoint, J.S. (and not a metaphysical one), I feel that free will is important to have for without it there would be no "responsibility" in the world. There would be no need for an "animal man" to form an ego or a conscience. There would be no need for him to try and become anything "more" than an animal. And the truth of man's existance would likely be as Nietzsche describes it in his "Genealogy of Morals"...

Have these genealogists of morality up to this point allowed themselves to dream, even remotely, that, for instance, the major moral principle "guilt" [Schuld] derives its origin from the very materialistic idea "debt" [Schulden] or that punishment developed entirely as repayment, without reference to any assumption about the freedom or lack of freedom of the will—and did so to the point where it first required a high degree of human development [Vermenschlichung] so that the animal "man" began to make those much more primitive distinctions between "intentional," "negligent," "accidental," "of sound mind," and their opposites and bring them to bear when handing out punishment? That unavoidable idea, nowadays so trite and apparently natural, which has really had to serve as the explanation how the feeling of justice in general came into existence on earth—"The criminal deserves punishment because he could have acted otherwise"—this idea, in fact, is an extremely late achievement, indeed, a sophisticated form of human judgment and decision making.

Anyone who moves this idea back to the very beginnings is sticking his coarse fingers inappropriately into the psychology of primitive humanity. For the most extensive period of human history punishment was not meted out because people held the instigator of evil responsible for his actions, nor was it assumed that only the guilty party should be punished. It was much more the case, as it still is now when parents punish their children, of anger over some harm which people have suffered, anger vented on the perpetrator. But this anger was restrained and modified through the idea that every injury had some equivalent and that compensation for it could, in fact, be paid out, even if that was through the pain of the perpetrator.

Where did this primitive, deeply rooted, and perhaps by now ineradicable idea derive its power, the idea of an equivalence between punishment and pain? I have already given away the answer: in the contractual relationship between creditor and debtor, which is as ancient as the idea of "someone subject to law" and which, in itself, refers back to the basic forms of buying, selling, bartering, trading, and exchanging goods.

5

It's true that recalling this contractual relationship arouses, as we might expect from what I have observed above, all sorts of suspicion of and opposition to primitive humanity which established or allowed it. It's precisely at this point that people make promises. Here the pertinent issue is that the person who makes a promise has to have a memory created for him, so that precisely at this point, we can surmise, there exists a site for what is hard, cruel, and painful. In order to inspire trust in his promise to pay back, in order to give his promise a guarantee of its seriousness and sanctity, in order to impress on his own conscience the idea of paying back as a duty, an obligation, the debtor, by virtue of the contract, pledges to the creditor, in the event that he does not pay, something that he still "owns," something over which he still exercises power, for example, his body or his wife or his freedom or even his life (or, under certain religious conditions, even his blessedness, the salvation of his soul, or finally his peace in the grave, as was the case in Egypt, where the dead body of the debtor even in the grave found no peace from the creditor—and it's certain that with the Egyptians such peace was particularly important). That means that the creditor could inflict all kinds of ignominy and torture on the body of the debtor—for instance, slicing off the body as much as seemed appropriate for the size of the debt. And this point of view early on and everywhere gave rise to precise, horrific estimates going into finer and finer details, legally established estimates, about individual limbs and body parts. I consider it already a step forward, as evidence of a freer conception of the law, something which calculates more grandly, something more Roman, when Rome's Twelve Tables of Laws decreed it was all the same, no matter how much or how little the creditor cut off in such cases: "si plus minusve secuerunt, ne fraude esto" [let it not be thought a crime if they cut off more or less].

Let's clarify the logic of this whole method of compensation—it is weird enough. The equivalency is given in this way: instead of an advantage making up directly for the harm (hence, instead of compensation in gold, land, possessions of some sort or another), the creditor is given a kind of pleasure as repayment and compensation—the pleasure of being allowed to discharge his power on a powerless person without having to think about it, the delight in "de fair le mal pour le plaisir de le faire" [doing wrong for the pleasure of doing it], the enjoyment of violation. This enjoyment is more highly prized the lower and baser the debtor stands in the social order, and it can easily seem to the creditor a delicious mouthful, even a foretaste of a higher rank. By means of the "punishment" of the debtor, the creditor participates in a right belonging to the masters. Finally he himself for once comes to the lofty feeling of despising a being as someone "below himself," as someone he is entitled to mistreat—or at least, in the event that the real force of punishment, of inflicting punishment, has already been transferred to the "authorities," the feeling of seeing the debtor despised and mistreated. The compensation thus consist of a permission for and right to cruelty.


---

Have you read Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice", J.S.? Are you prepared to exact your pound of flesh now, Shylock?

Perhaps now you gain an inkling into what it means to stare into an abyss, and see yourself staring back. Remove free will from the equation, and we become perfectly "free" to resume venting our anger and will to power upon one another. And so resumes the Bellum omium contra omnes - Everyman's struggle against everyman -(Thomas Hobbes).

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 8:34 AM, Blogger nanc said...

not that i can remember, aow. of course if it's a hymn i've probably heard it.

it is difficult to allow Him to have His way at times when we're being headstrong humans and think we have a better way.

you are spot on about the aging process of our walk with G-d - it gets more comfortable as with a good marriage. of course, He knows me better than i know me.

and a good morning to all - i love the waltons also.

 
At 4/17/2006 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julius Maximus, the crowd is growing anxious, get those Christians into the arena and prepare to release the lions on the Emperor's signal!

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rope walker. Be careful not to look down. You stand in a high tower. Do you have a goal to reach on the other side of the abyss?

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do any of you Christians know the words to "A Mighty Fortress is Our G_d?" You might want to start humming. The lions look hungry. And just in case any of you secularists got mixed in with the Christians... you might try a little "Love Reign O'er Me", by The Who...

Only love can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea
Only love can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers laying in the fields

Love, reign o'er me
Love, reign o'er me, rain on me
Rain on me

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool, cool rain
I can't sleep and I lay and I think
The nights are hot and black as ink
Ooh, O God, I need a drink of cool, cool rain

Love can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky
Only love can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high

Love, reign o'er me
Rain it over me, over me, over me, whoa
Love, reign o'er me
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, on me
Love


-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 10:14 AM, Blogger nanc said...

yes, f.j. we listened to it yesterday, but this is one that has gotten me through on a number of occasions:

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.



- Words by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
- Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876

The words to this hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford's life. The first was the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him financially. Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford's daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford's wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram: "SAVED ALONE." Several weeks later, as Spafford's own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, he was inspired to write these words.


Bliss originally named the tune "Ville de Havre" after the ship on which Spafford's four girls perished, the SS Ville de Havre. Ironically, Bliss himself died in a tragic train wreck shortly after writing this music."

 
At 4/17/2006 10:15 AM, Blogger nanc said...

p.s. that was cut and paste job - since i learned to do that i don't eat the paste anymore...

 
At 4/17/2006 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a really loving and heart-felt hymn, nanc. Tragedy can certainly bring out the best in people. Thanks for sharing that, a little storm oil for the churning waters.

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 10:34 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- This is what I remember;

Have thine own way Lord
Have thine own way
Thou art the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
After thy will
While I am waitting
yielded and still!

I will check a hymnal tomorrow and get the rest.
nanc- That was one of the hymns that saw me through! I've noticed that G*D doesn't always answer in the way we would consider an answer, but what HE says brings peace and strength! Amazing!

tmw

 
At 4/17/2006 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank Herbert, "Dune"

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. --Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.

To attempt an understanding of Muad'Dib without understanding his mortal enemies, the Harkonnens, is to attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be.
--from Manual of Muad'Dib by the Princess Irulan

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 11:41 AM, Blogger nanc said...

funny you should bring up the subject of fear, f.j. - ergun caner this weekend at falwell ministries gave a good sermon about his fear of heights and told someone a very long time ago that if they could get all 167 or so people in town to church on sunday, he'd parachute out of a plane. well, lo and behold they got many more than that in church and he stood on his promise.

he said it was great and while he was falling couldn't imagine being so afraid of heights and then he pulled the cord and the harness yanked up on the nether regions and he said, "now, there's something to be scared of!"

for those who do not know ergun caner - he is a former muslim who found grace in our Lord and Saviour Christ over twenty years ago. his is one of the most powerful testimonies i've heard. his own father disowned him and his brother. check him out.

 
At 4/17/2006 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parachute? Who's wearing a parachute? Alis volat propriis.

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
You might check Cyber Hymnal for the words to "Have Thine Own Way." The site is here. Go to "Titles." Turn on your speakers for sound, once you find the title you're looking for.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Have thine own way Lord
Have thine own way
Hold o'er my being
Absolute sway
Try me, oh try me
?
?
While humbly I bow

Argh, a mind is a terrible thing to lose! Stock up on gingko biloba. Soon, before I forget!

tmw

 
At 4/17/2006 12:13 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Do any of you Christians know the words to "A Mighty Fortress is Our G_d?"

Most definitely! All the words are at this site. Offhand, I can't recall if the music track at CH is organ. You might check. Click on "Titles," and turn up your speakers. "Fortress" sounds outstanding on a good pipe organ.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:15 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
I remember that story about Spafford. Bliss, of course, wrote the melodies to many hymns.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:17 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Synchronicity! J.S. will be reading Merchant next school term. Depths to plumb in that particular Shakespearean work, as you and I discussed some time ago, at an earlier blog article.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:19 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
(Can you tell that I'm working my way through email notification of comments to my blog? Hehehe)

From a personal standpoint, J.S. (and not a metaphysical one), I feel that free will is important to have for without it there would be no "responsibility" in the world.

Aye, there's the rub when the case is made against free will.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:25 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
Here are the words:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
One of my homeschool parents recently heard Ergun Caner speak. If I have the name correct, that is. Isn't Caner at Falwell's Liberty University now?

 
At 4/17/2006 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, in these modern times, the clamour for rights is almost deafening. Seldom is a similar clamour raised regarding the correponding responsibilities that accompany those rights.

btw - Have you seen Portia anywhere yet? I'm still waiting for her to show up and save the Christians. Let's hope she hasn't lost her way. ;-)

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 12:37 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
The world today definitely needs a Portia. She'll have to know how to use the prevailing rules against those in power. And she'll have to be sly about it as well. Will she need a disguise?

 
At 4/17/2006 12:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
If Portia lost her way, it was in the Slough of Moral Relevancy.

 
At 4/17/2006 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the modern-day Portia needs a disguise these days, AoW, equality of the sexes being what it is.

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Maybe. But Portia would need a disguise in most Muslim nations.

Off to give piano lessons now. Later.

 
At 4/17/2006 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of Moslems, I'm beginning to notice some spooky connections between Frank Herbert's "House Atreides" and Aeschylus' "House Atreus". My Wiki friends confirm the link. You wouldn't happen to know anything about Frank Herbert's politics, would you? You know how the moderns loved to steal from the ancients. Joyce would have been a two-bit hack if he had had to come up with any original ideas of his own.

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 5:44 PM, Blogger nanc said...

yes aow - caner is head of liberty now. a fine choice falwell made. caner reminds me of my own son-in-law - a large and in charge jovial man of G-d.

 
At 4/17/2006 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting character, Frank Herbert. Not quite what I expected. Never mind. It was the Hollywood types swapping symbology over at Wiki that set me off. I thought I had spotted a Marcusian shadow, there for a moment.

Zzzzz

-FJ

 
At 4/17/2006 7:49 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
I'm not a big fan of sci-fi, though I did read the first in the Dune series.

I tend to miss political/ideological symbolism in sci-fi as I "enjoy" that genre on a very simplistic level. Ah, well! I can't be looking for hidden meaning all the time, can I? Maybe I SHOULD, though. After all, I look for the hidden meanings in Shakespeare. Hehehe.

Herbert is no Shakespeare, IMO. And definitely better than many modern authors.

You know how the moderns loved to steal from the ancients. Joyce would have been a two-bit hack if he had had to come up with any original ideas of his own.

True! I'm not a fan of James Joyce--for lots of reasons. Hypergraphia might be one of them, along with a dislike of his lack of originality. His most significant contribution was the stream-of-consciousness style, but he overdid it, IMO.

 
At 4/18/2006 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fj,

“I feel that free will is important to have for without it there would be no "responsibility" in the world, [and people would be like animals].”

The reason we should develop a responsibility and develop beyond animalism is not because of something inherent in ourselves (free will), But because there is something outside of us (God’s will) that is greater. This why we are held responsible and are responsible because God commands us to be perfect. Because we are not perfect, we bring judgment on ourselves. We don’t choose to be perfect or imperfect; we are dead in our sins. We have no choice but to be unrighteous. And it is for that that we are condemned to hell. Again, it is not through our choice that we make ourselves perfect. I don’t think any of you believe we choose perfection, however, you probably do believe we choose Christ. It is impossible, however, to choose (to accept something pure and perfect) Christ, for we are dead in our sins and are completely unrighteous. (This would be like the Devil saying, “Gosh, I wish I could serve Christ.”) The only way to God is through Him. The only rebirth from our sins cannot come from anything we do/choose. Nothing we do will get us to Him. It is by His grace that He forgives us of our sins and by His grace that we exist at all. We get to Heaven not by us believing in God, but in Him granting us forgiveness.

ROMANS 9:16 – “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

“For as it is written there are none righteous, no not one. There are none who understand, none who seek after God.”

That’s why God has to save us not us saving ourselves. By having a “choice” or having “free will” we do the saving, not God. “For it is by grace that we have been saved through faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift from God, not of works lest any man should boast”

In essence, free will is like saying we can choose option “a” (Heaven) or option “b.” (Hell) Yippee, we chose “a,” aren’t we so intelligent. By having this choice (ability), this takes away the fact that only God can save us. By choosing Heaven or Hell, we make ourselves equivalent to God and take His power of forgiveness (for our sins) and grace away from Him. How can free will be Godly if this is the outcome?

Also, (FJ) in your comment of absolute “free will,” you say “free will” will only lead to power and cruelty. It’s true for both, either way with or without free will, man is a sinner and no matter, what we sin. Any exercises of our power or anger would lead to cruelty and unfairness. (Were sinners, remember)The same, however, does not apply to God. He can create without free will and judge us as He pleases because He is perfectly Holy and we are perfectly depraved. God can not sin in His anger or in anything He does, such as the wrath of God. Because He is God, He is accountable to no one but himself. For “wrath of God” examples, God killed thousands of people (in the Bible) for no reason other than they weren’t His chosen people (You know, all the battles between the Israelites and their enemies). He even killed His own chosen people if they misbehaved. This should highlight the fact that if God sees something He doesn’t like, He destroys it with every right. This is perfectly fine because He’s God. He created us, He can destroy us.

Nanc,

There’s a vast difference between God’s father child relationship and our Father child relationship. You claim that God doesn’t get any joy unless man comes to Him out of their own free will (that is unless man chooses himself, I want to go to Heaven instead of Hell) and you base that on the experience you have with your children. You wouldn’t be pleased unless your child does what you want under his own free will. (In this sort of earthly instance) We are pleased we are getting our way when we couldn’t have other wise, for man cannot force another man to do our bidding. Following this logic, God wouldn’t be able to get what He wants unless we cooperate rendering God effectively impotent. Is it right that God should have to be responsible to us? That we can only be sent to Heaven or Hell if we want to? God shouldn’t have to get our approval before He does His will, because the Creator does what He wills with His creations?

Merry widow,

When and where in the Bible does is say God has a relationship with us as we (man) have with each other. God has a relationship with us, yes, but it is entirely different. Because He is infinite, all-knowing, and sovereign, how can we, as mere stupid, mortals, have such a close relationship as “Daddy, I love you.” God created the universe and all its contents. How can someone who “creates” have a relationship with the ones “created.”This would be like a sculptor claiming to have a “relationship” with his statue. How could a sinner relate to a perfect saint? Of course, God looks after us, as children, but since He is the supreme Father, He can do with us as He pleases (see Romans 9:11 – 23, some of which is below). This includes forms of punishment. We can not question our Father (as we might an earthly father) by how He punishes His children, because there are no rules God has to follow, for there are mo rules of nature, science, whatever, that God cannot change. From raising people from the dead to having the sun sit still for 24 hours in Jericho, God makes His own rules) The point I am trying to make here, is that hey, anything we consider as a rule (such as a mortal man should not kill another mortal man) is nothing when It comes to God. God as the ultimate is responsible to no one other than himself and creates his own rules that His subjects must abide by.

Romans 6:16 – “We are slaves to Righteousness and also slaves to God.”

The Father child relationship Biblically speaking is a lot harsher than an earthly relationship

Read Romans 9:11 - 23
Before the twins (Jacob and Esau) were born God told Rebecca He would hate one and love the other. He says this in this passage to show His will and not the wills of man. Right here, God pre-decided (takes away free will, now doesn’t it. Esau can now never choose to please God. Why, because God told Rebecca He will not love Esau) that His will be done, not the interests/wants/desires men may ever want.

15 “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Again, God Himself says He does what He wants…

18 “I will mercy on whom He desires and He will harden whom He desires.”

19 “You will say to me then, why does He still find fault, for who resists His will.”

20 “On the contrary, who are you, oh, man who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”
Romans 20 is very important. What right do we creations have to question what our Creator does with us? Does clay waiting to be made into a pot say “Um, excuse me; I would like to have one handle not two.” I don’t think so. So what right do we have to question Him?

21” Or does no the potter have a right over the clay to make from the same lump of clay, one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”

22 – 23 “what if God, although willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.”


One of you (I think it was MW) used the hymn with the “potter” and “clay” theme. If we are the clay and God is the potter, we, the clay, don’t do anything unless God, the potter, is constantly “pushing” and “molding” us. That means, that life (our totalt existance), nature(sun goes up, sun goes down, water doesn't flood, there aren't famines and droughts constantly), and souls aren't just stopped.


The final point I wish to make (this is to all) is this:

How does the existence of free will glorify God and why is it so important for free will to exist?

Why is it so important to you (all – Farmer John, Nanc, Merry Widow, and anyone else who is listening) that we have free will?


Does your answer reflect your personal interests (will of man)or the interests (God's will)of God?

What I mean by this is did you answer something to the likes of “We have free will because God, as a loving Father, would not let anything bad and unfair happen to us (like sending us to Hell),” or “We don’t have free will, God, as our Creator, can do with us as He pleases?” If you answered positively to the first answer, I have something to tell you.

Let’s start at the beginning (literally)

Genesis 1:1 – God created the Heavens and the Earth.

So, we have now established God created the universe. That include the physical earth – the universe and man, and it includes the Heavens – angels, Heaven, Hell, the devil.

Now that we have established God created the universe and everything in it (including natural and supernatural) Shouldn’t God, who created everything, have the right to do anything with His creation? After all, the only person God is responsible for is Himself. We are lucky to even be on His list of someone to look after. We are effectively worthless unless He wants to keep us. Wake up people this is true. We were not created to be beings that God has to report to. We were not created to be beings God is responsible for. And, we were not created to be beings that have an approval of what our Creator does with us. So, is it right then for creations to demand rights, privileges, desires and require only what we think is fair to our Creator? God’s first interest is His will not our will. That means if it is His will we die, we die. We don’t complain saying “Wah, God, why did you kill me.”

Again, ask yourself the question

Why do I believe free will exists?

Is it because I just don’t want to die (effectively) and want things my way? Really think about how you answered the question. Is the root of your answer God gave us free will because He just doesn’t kill people unnecessarily? Or maybe, "I think we have free will because I just don’t want to think someone has such a powerful control on me that He can kill me?" We have absolutely zero rights to have things our “way.” As humble creations, we need to accept any will our Creator dishes out?

I feel you most assuredly you will bring these arguments up later, so, I will answer them now.

• With no free will, that means God made sin.
Well, hate to break it to you, but where else did it come from? You might say “well, sin is the absence of God.” Again, so where does it come from. You might say it came from the Devil or man’s sin nature. Well, that might work accept God created them so, that means he created everything they can think and do. After all, only God can create something out of nothing. Man and God’s creations (such as the devil) can only do and think with the ability God gave them. If you disagree with this, then the only other alternative is we began as a festering puddle of bubbling cells.
• If there is no free will, God openly and unashamedly kills.
Um, is there a problem here? As much as I might not want to die die myself, if my Creator wants me dead, then regardless of what my interests are, I die no questions asked. Even from the Bible, God “killed.”
o Capital punishment - A death penalty set up to punish criminals. God set this system up, not man.
o The many battles in the Bible where God sent angels who slaughtered thousands of men
o The plague God used to help Moses in killing all Egyptian first borns
These are just a few examples…

What I am trying to say here people, is that we are mere men. A people who were created not to pursue our own interests, but a people created to pursue the interests of our Creator. The universe was not created so man could run around making themselves happy. God created us to be His children, slaves, whatever you want to call it(Romans 6:16 – “We are slaves to Righteousness and also slaves to God.”)created to do what He wants.

The universe is not about us and what we want.

J.S.

P.S. I know a lot of what I said is repetitive, but that is because I wrote this at separate times and have no time to paste it together efficiently.

 
At 4/18/2006 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J.S.- Of course it's not about us!
Go read my post again, didn't I say we were created by G*D to show the angels HIS perfection? Go read Hebrews, especially 4:14-16. Then go read Eph.1:4-6,1:22-23,2:4-6. Then reflect on John3:16, kind of sounds like G*D wants an intimate relationship with us. And didn't G*D walk in the Garden daily with Adam? Then head to Revelation for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, that is a pretty intimate relationship, isn't it? And is it possible that the word used to denote predestined also means to preknow? Try getting your hands on a Greek-English Interlinear and a Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible. You remind me so much of my late husband in your dogmaticism, just remember that you too are fallable in your conclusions. You are on your way to becoming an apologist, we need more. Be diligent, but don't become like Paul before he met Christ! G*D bless you richly, I am delighted to correspond to with you, you sharpen me!

tmw

 
At 4/18/2006 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one question for the moment JS. How do you know all this?

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fj,

I was waiting for someone to ask me that question.

Well, I am willing to be wrong (if proven that is)

I believe, however, that all of my evidence has come either directly from the Bible (which we all appear to agree upon)or logic (again, I am willing to be wrong if proven so) which is based on the Bible.

So, if you feel that my evidence is lacking in truth, take it up with the one whp originally wrote the Bible.

J.S.

 
At 4/18/2006 10:37 AM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

AoW- I love this boy! I read one of his comments to my daughter and she was nodding her head saying,"It sure sounds like someone we know!" Maybe he's the next Ravi Zacharias or write a book like "Evidence That Demands A Verdict". I bet he's a handful in class, but what a mind!

tmw

 
At 4/18/2006 10:59 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Merry Widow,
J.S. IS a bit of a handful, as are a few others of my students. As you might have guessed, he is an active participant in discussions, which I occasionally have to referee. Hamlet is the topic of discussion in literature class today. I'm taking a bell so as to send the battlers to their various corners. LOL. Most of my students will be furious with Hamlet, I think, because that character delayed and delayed in taking decisive action.

But I'll say this for J.S. This student is committed to the Lord. We need more young Christians like J.S.!

 
At 4/18/2006 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want me to ask questions of dead guys? (take it up with the writers?) How can I do that? Why should I even bother trying? “For as it is written there are none righteous, no not one. There are none who understand, none who seek after God.”

I'm just curious now, J.S. How can I possibly prove you wrong?

Will logic, based upon the Bible be sufficient?

Must I find a Biblical passage (or collection of passages) that directly contradict what you have stated, in exactly the way you have stated it?

Can I use any logic that is not based upon the Bible?

If you could lend me some kind of "hierarchy" of truth from which I could base my arguments, I'd appreciate that.

And I'm also curious about another thing now. Where does "faith" come in? Is "faith" the same as "truth"?

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw - another question...

Do you want me to prove you "wrong" or simply that something you say is "false". Is there a difference? What is that difference?

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops, I almost forgot to ask. Can I use non-canonical texts [ie - The Gnostic Texts (Gospel of Judas or Timothy) or the Koran]? Why or why not? LDS Prophets like Joseph Smith? Why or why not?

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing, I know you must think me a pest, but I really must clarify something before we get too involved. Since this discussion centers upon the concept of "will", is there a definition of it that we should settle upon before we get started? We often speak of doing G_d's "Will", of our own free (or determined) will, but what do we mean by "will"? Arthur Shopenhauer once wrote a huge two volume treatise entitled "The World as Will and Representation", and I just want to make sure I know what it is before we get in over our heads.

-FJ

ps - Can G_d's Will be anything like our will? Because much (or at least a portion) of my will (and energy) is focused on having to eat, drink, and sleep... and usually has something to do with the filling and evacuation of living tissues and organs. Also, Nietzsche often talked about the "will" to power and the "will" to truth.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia... The term will as used in Catholic philosophy, may be briefly defined as the faculty of choice; it is classified among the appetites, and is contrasted with those which belong either to the merely sensitive or to the vegetative order: it is thus commonly designated "the rational appetite"; it stands in an authoritative relation to the complex of lower appetites, over which it exercises a preferential control; its specific act, therefore, when it if in full exercise, consists in selecting, by the light of reason, its object from among the various particular, conflicting aims of all the tendencies and faculties of our nature: its object is the good in general (bonum in communi); its prerogative is freedom in choosing among different forms of good. As employed in modern philosophy, the term has often a much wider signification. It is frequently used in a loose, generic sense as coextensive with appetite, and in such a way as to include any vital principle of movement ab intra, even those which are irrational and instinctive. Thus Bain makes appetency a species of volition, instead of vice-versa. We cannot but think this an abuse of terms. In any case--whatever opinion one holds on the free will controversy--some specific designation is certainly required for that controlling and sovereign faculty in man, which every sane philosophy recognizes as unmistakably distinct from the purely physical impulses and strivings, and from the sensuous desires and conations which are the expressions of our lower nature's needs. And custom has consecrated the term will to this more honourable use.

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops again. One more question. When you say "free" as in "free will".... do you mean free as in absolutely no limitations, or free as in a kind of "liberty", which is more "limited" freedom and operates under the "rule of law"?

People always talk about the right to "free" speech, but they never really mean it. Otherwise you could yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

And like our system of laws, traffic may flow "freely" only when subjected to certain rules and laws. Otherwise, bingo, you have to drive real slow because some bozo may driving on the left-hand side of the road, instead of the right, and talk about your traffic jams!

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

always,

I sometimes wonder if Portia was a little old German man. I wonder if he ever cross-dressed? Probably.

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 5:13 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
We had classes today as Easter break is over.

J.S. will try to get back to you, I think, or so J.S. indicated when we got out of class around 3:30.

 
At 4/18/2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
An excerpt from your last link (Kant makes my head spin, especially after a full day of classes!):

Allow your opponent to say what he thinks reasonable, and combat him only with the weapons of reason. Have no anxiety for the practical interests of humanity– these are never imperilled in a purely speculative dispute. Such a dispute serves merely to disclose the antinomy of reason, which, as it has its source in the nature of reason, ought to be thoroughly investigated. Reason is benefited by the examination of a subject on both sides, and its judgements are corrected by being limited. It is not the matter that may give occasion to dispute, but the manner. For it is perfectly permissible to employ, in the presence of reason, the language of a firmly rooted faith, even after we have been obliged to renounce all pretensions to knowledge.

Was the above excerpt one of the points you wanted to make, FJ?

The mental image of Kant as cross-dresser is quite a picture. LOL.

 
At 4/18/2006 5:21 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Or perhaps you meant this portion:

The young thinker, who has in his armoury none but dogmatical weapons with which to resist the attacks of his opponent, and who cannot detect the latent dialectic which lies in his own opinions as well as in those of the opposite party, sees the advance of illusory arguments and grounds of proof which have the advantage of novelty, against as illusory grounds of proof destitute of this advantage, and which, perhaps, excite the suspicion that the natural credulity of his youth has been abused by his instructors. He thinks he can find no better means of showing that he has out grown the discipline of his minority than by despising those well-meant warnings, and, knowing no system of thought but that of dogmatism, he drinks deep draughts of the poison that is to sap the principles in which his early years were trained.

 
At 4/18/2006 6:22 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Beautifully put! Thanks AoW, that was what I was trying to convey. J.S. has much potential and I would hate to see him injured, shall we say, by less admirable debaters! Also, such dogmaticism can stunt one's spiritual growth. I know Ben had to go through some horrendous things personally to get past his tendency to legalistic interpretations. Grace and mercy were hard for him to accept personally, so he had a hard time(near impossible) extending it to others! I met him toward the end of that journey and his tales of learning were hard to listen to sometimes, because he really suffered. It took some other lessons before he got it down pat. I would hate for anyone else to have to go down that path! The physical suffering was matched by the mental and emotional. I hope J.S. can learn from anothers travel instead of going there himself.

tmw

 
At 4/18/2006 6:50 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Merry Widow,
J.S. is going to be all right, I think; for one reason, his search is done in all humility, though one can't necessarily tell so from the written words here in the comments. Coming on strong is just the way young people are. And remember the content of the sonnet and its emphasis on undeserved mercy and grace, both of which bring riches to the soul.

But you are right to point out the possible ensnarement of legalism:

such dogmaticism can stunt one's spiritual growth.

And thank you for pointing this out:

I hope J.S. can learn from anothers travel instead of going there himself. Knowing J.S. as I do (for many years), I feel certain that J.S. will take to heart what you have said; furthermore, J.S. has the heart of a servant, an aspect you might not see in the written word, but which I see every day we have class.

I'll add here the importance of thorough study of the Beatitudes. What a font of information we have there about the Christian walk! The information therein is practical, but those of the mind of J.S. want to go beyond the practical and into the abstract.

Of course, none of us fully understands the mysteries of the Lord's will and plans, but ALL of us understand the significance of the gift freely given. Not a single believer has the right to be prideful about that gift because we didn't create it.

Long ago, I gave up trying to fathom the unfathomable. We see darkly now, but one day, we will indeed see clearly. And I believe that the promised day of clarity will reveal to us just how much God loves His children. Nevertheless, it is good to ask questions and to discuss. Did not our Lord give us the ability to do so?

 
At 4/18/2006 7:53 PM, Anonymous the merry widow said...

Good! The sonnet was very telling, but it is good to have confirmation. I wish him well on his journey into the unfathomable, it is exciting and takes you places you can't imagine, with more to come!

tmw

P.S. With a teacher who cares so much he stands a better chance of diving deep into G*D! Children are the arrows we shoot into the future and teachers and mentors can help pull the bow string farther or mess up our aim!

tmw

 
At 4/18/2006 8:50 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Merry Widow,
his journey into the unfathomable, it is exciting and takes you places you can't imagine, with more to come!

Yes, it's good to be young and on fire. But now that I'm older, I try to rest in the Lord. One of the joys of maturity.

 
At 4/18/2006 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should confess a few sins of my own (from Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason")....

So long as mere personal vanity is the source of these unworthy artifices– and this is generally the case in speculative discussions, which are mostly destitute of practical interest, and are incapable of complete demonstration– the vanity of the opposite party exaggerates as much on the other side; and thus the result is the same, although it is not brought about so soon as if the dispute had been conducted in a sincere and upright spirit. But where the mass entertains the notion that the aim of certain subtle speculators is nothing less than to shake the very foundations of public welfare and morality– it seems not only prudent, but even praise worthy, to maintain the good cause by illusory arguments, rather than to give to our supposed opponents the advantage of lowering our declarations to the moderate tone of a merely practical conviction, and of compelling us to confess our inability to attain to apodeictic certainty in speculative subjects. But we ought to reflect that there is nothing, in the world more fatal to the maintenance of a good cause than deceit, misrepresentation, and falsehood. That the strictest laws of honesty should be observed in the discussion of a purely speculative subject is the least requirement that can be made. If we could reckon with security even upon so little, the conflict of speculative reason regarding the important questions of God, immortality, and freedom, would have been either decided long ago, or would very soon be brought to a conclusion. But, in general, the uprightness of the defence stands in an inverse ratio to the goodness of the cause; and perhaps more honesty and fairness are shown by those who deny than by those who uphold these doctrines.

Vanity. All is vanity. Goodnight all.

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J.S.,

You are truly an admirable opponent. I should have realized you were back in school.

-FJ

 
At 4/18/2006 9:00 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Good night, Friend Farmer. (I just saw your comment pop into my in-box. J.S. must be studying. I hope so!)

 
At 4/18/2006 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howdy,

Well, I must say its been fun. (I am, however, now back in my school mode) So, unfortunatly, I must end my comments...

But, Thank you all for participating in this lively discussion. I have appreciated all your comments. Where would the youth (make that stubborn youth, hehe) of today be without the help and guidance of adults. Thank you all for helping me along in my spiritual life.

Thank you, also, AOW for such a nice conclusion. Yes, I was/am studying...

Anyway, talk to you all later,

J.S.

 
At 4/19/2006 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A parting paean to JS & Apollo (From Lee Ann Womack)...

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
And God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith the fighting chance
And if you get the chance to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
And never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances but they're worth taking
Loving might be a mistake but it's worth making
Don't let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a pasing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
promise me that you'll give fate the fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance, I hope you dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance.

 
At 4/19/2006 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and yes, always, I usually think of Kant as a sort of church-man (cross-dresser), even though he was more "university professor".

-FJ

 
At 4/19/2006 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Epilogue (Nietzsche, "Zarathustra")

Courageous, unconcerned, scornful, coercive- so wisdom wisheth us;
she is a woman, and ever loveth only a warrior.
Ye tell me, "Life is hard to bear." But for what purpose should ye have your pride in the morning and your resignation in the evening?
Life is hard to bear: but do not affect to be so delicate! We are
all of us fine sumpter asses and she-asses.
What have we in common with the rose-bud, which trembleth because
a drop of dew hath formed upon it?
It is true we love life; not because we are wont to live, but
because we are wont to love.
There is always some madness in love. But there is always, also,
some method in madness.
And to me also, who appreciate life, the butterflies, and soap-bubbles, and whatever is like them amongst us, seem most to enjoy happiness.
To see these light, foolish, pretty, lively little sprites flit
about- that moveth Zarathustra to tears and songs.
I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance.
And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound,
solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall.
Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the
spirit of gravity!
I learned to walk; since then have I let myself run. I learned to
fly; since then I do not need pushing in order to move from a spot.
Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under myself.
Now there danceth a God in me.-
Thus spake Zarathustra.


-FJ

 
At 4/19/2006 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Philosophy in Greek means Love of Wisdom (for all you etymologists).

;-)

-FJ

 
At 4/19/2006 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ooops...

and may you all have a joyous Easter! I've finished dancing my annual "bunny hop".

-FJ

 
At 4/19/2006 6:20 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

FJ,
Thank you for that parting paean!

 

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