Tag Archives: scott-garber

Progressive

It’s strange – even though I’ve alluded to the fact that most of my views and beliefs tend to fall at (0,0) on the “Cartesian coordinate system”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_coordinate_system, I still tend to think of myself as a full-fledged conservative. Maybe this is because I know for a fact that I am not a liberal and from what I can determine, my philosophies don’t even fit cleanly into the traditional moderate worldview. I just know that whenever I hear someone refer to ‘conservatives’ or ‘religious fundamentalists’ or whatever, I immediately think, “Oh, so-and-so is talking about me,” which is, strictly speaking, not actually true. They _are_ talking about the people with whom I tend to associate, but ideologically speaking, even I tend to fall outside of those same groups.

I think what it really boils down to is that when I hear the word ‘liberal,’ I think of someone who does not believe that absolute truth exists, that truth and reality are both what you make of them for yourself, who believe in evolution and the Big Bang, and who tend to espouse and follow religiously liberal political agendas. Conversely, when I hear the word ‘conservative,’ I think of someone who _does_ believe in absolute truth (and that that truth can actually be known and practiced), that there is a fundamental and unchanging foundation for truth that is external to the human experience, who, at the very least, tend to doubt that evolution is a valid scientific theory and who, instead, see ample evidence for some sort of intelligent design in nature, and who tend to espouse and follow religiously conservative political agendas. When I see these two definitions, the one that seems to fit me best is ‘conservative’, and so it is the way in which I most instinctively think of myself.

Of course, conservative and liberal are two extremes in a somewhat linear system. ((I could actually expand it to a planar system, but a single line keeps things simpler.)) I think Scott Garber stated it best when he said in one issue of his newsletter that we should not be liberal, conservative, or moderate, but rather we should be progressive, striving always to improve our thinking and improve the cultural, social, and religious systems in which we live. My biggest gripe with true liberals, conservatives, and moderates alike is that so often they fail to actually use the grey matter encapsulated within their skulls. Too often I see and hear people spout the standard party line that is typical of whatever ideology they follow, and I wonder if they have ever really thought that ideology through to its logical conclusion. Mind you, I don’t expect that everyone who thinks through an issue will automatically arrive at the same conclusions I have, since everyone starts from a slightly different set of presuppositions. But I _would_ hope that by engaging in “metasystemic thinking”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=444, one would be able to revise and alter those presuppositions and, by association, the accompanying conclusions based from those presuppositions.

I hesitate to start calling myself ‘progessive.’ I’m not one to quickly jump onto a bandwagon and rally to a label or banner. And without providing the appropriate context necessary for understanding, labeling oneself ‘progessive’ could be easily seen as pretentious. Yet, in every area of my life and my thinking, progression is exactly what I seek. I seek to progress toward truth and understanding, toward righteous living, and away from untruth and falsehood and selfish, vain lifestyles.

So I view myself as conservative when in reality I am more progressive in nature, and I wish that more people were like that, willing to actually question their beliefs and examine them. In the end, I think it’s ok if they find that they do still actually believe all those things; it is certainly their right and their freedom to, whether those beliefs are right or wrong. But I do think it’s important that everyone know and understand _why_ they believe and live by the things they do, be able to defend them by arguing for them intelligently and with evidence. Call it a product of postmodern culture, but every year I see fewer and fewer people who are able to do this, who simply take on whatever belief systems _feels_ good to them, never fully understanding or grasping what philosophy it is they live by.

I’ve said it before, certainly, but I think this is why I devote so much of my time and energy to writing in a public place – to examine my own thinking and philosophies in a critical manner, and to cause others to examine their own in a similar fashion. We’re not mindless robots, people, and it is our personal responsibility to know _what_ we believe and _why_ because someday, we _will_ have to answer for our choices.

Delight

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I used to read this verse to mean that you would get the things that you want because they are also the things that God wants you to have; ergo, “I’m close to God, so I’m thinking His thoughts after Him, so what I want is what He wants.” Emphasis on the object desired. Now, however, I think it’s more subtle than that. He will give me the “desires of [my] heart,” emphasis on the desire, regardless of whether I actually receive the objects(s) desired. Essentially, I can be content with having the desire alone because I know the desire is from God. Even though I realize I may never actually recieve the object of my desire, I can and will continue to pursue it because God has placed the desire in my heart and it will make me more like His Son. So, it’s not the end result that matters, it’s like Scott Garber says, “It’s the journey, stupid.”

Spiritual Disciplines

Mastering the spiritual disciplines begins, for me, with the physical disciplines. I’ve gained another 20 lbs. or so the past few weeks (even though my lifestyle and eating habits have not changed over the past year or so). As a result, I believe, I feel fatigued much of the time and my mind is constantly foggy. My goal is to exercise an hour a day at least four days a week, drop roughly 50 pounds, and get back near my ideal body weight.

I believe that to fully master the spiritual disciplines, one must also master the physical disciplines. It’s necessary to master one’s own body, to bring it into subjection, making it the temple of the Holy Spirit that it was meant to be. I need more discipline in my own life, and the best place for me to start at this point is disciplining my body. It’s going to be tough because I’ve grown used to the lack of activity, but in the end, it will all be worth it.

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On another note, I’d like to throw a question out to my handful of subscribers. I have been told numerous times from numerous sources that I am a gifted writer, that I am very eloquent in presenting my thoughts, even in a rough draft. As a result, I’ve been kicking around the idea of beginning a newsletter to share some of the lessons of life as I learn them. (If anyone is familiar with Scott Garber’s Unconventional Wisdom, it will probably be something similar to that.) The question is, if I were to do that, would anyone be interested in subscribing? At this point, I’m just curious as to what the interest levels might be, as it might be a while before I would such a project off the ground. Also, if there is enough interest, I’d be interested in getting ideas for titles for the letter.

Liberals

Liberals really irritate me sometimes. Of course, there are a fair number of conservatives that have the same effect on me at times. The arguments, debates, and disagreements that ensue between the two extremes are very typically divisive, spiteful, and hateful. It angers me to see this in politics (the current presidential race not withstanding), but it especially angers me when it happens within Christian circles. Both sides become so hard-headed and stiff-necked, completely unwilling to give, so sure that theirs is the right position, and in the process hatred is forged and division created. I suppose that, on the conservative-liberal continuum, I would most likely be classified by others as conservative, though, using that same standard, I would place myself further toward the middle (perhaps a 3.5 on a 10-point scale). Rather, though, I prefer to think of myself as progressive, a position espoused by Scott Garber in a recent edition of his Unconventional Wisdom newsletter. The true progressive is neither conservative nor liberal (though he or she may resemble either at various points in time and on various issues), but rather is someone who continually moves self, and urges others, toward change when change is needed. Part of this mindset (and worldview?) is having the willingness to evaluate one’s own stances on various issues and changing when it is clear that the currently held position is in error, something which, as previously noted, I see few from the extremes willing to do. This is not to put myself up on a pedestal as a monument of “enlightenment” or “self-actualization”, however (for I can be as stiff-necked as the next man). But I do strive for a continual state of self-evaluation and change, ever pursuing and desiring to become more like my Lord (the greatest promoter of change during his earthly ministry).

This frustration with conservatives and liberals has become more and more salient to me again these past few days as I have mulled over a variety of topics currently in debate. I have listened and watched and pondered both sides of all the arguments (for they have been very dichotomous in nature, as they must be, for there can only be two sides, good or evil, right or wrong; the so-called “gray” areas are man-made results of sin, I believe, but that is a matter for another post), and I have seen that neither side is willing to budge. (I do have my own thoughts and ideas and stances on the various issues of what I believe is truly right and good, and I plan to make those more fully known in the coming days and weeks, as I am able. For those of you who actually care enough about what I think to ask my opinion and to read, I ask your continued patience. Taking part in these discussions is very important to me, but they are lower on my priority list right now, at least until I get through a couple more weeks of classes and my summer schedule begins to ease off. I have neither the time nor the energy to devote to much more than my studies and to my wife right now. I appreciate your patience.)

I do not condemn anyone for their stances, for it is not my place to do so. I will, however, disagree when necessary and point out when I think you are wrong. However, I also believe that every man is free to believe as he so desires and will be held accountable to the Lord one day for those beliefs, as well as for those they have led to truth and those they have led into sin and disbelief. Therefore, I take these discussions very seriously, both to seek to better others as well as to hone the rough edges off my own thinking and so, hopefully, to reveal a better and more full view of my Lord (always with the Scriptures open and at my right hand, of course) and bind the fellowship of the Body into a greater unity and further the Kingdom.