Thursday, January 27, 2011

Will Pt. 2

I am really enjoying my course on Atheism! We are talking about how the roots of most modern atheist beliefs go back to the 13/14th century, with the conceptualization of God as primarily will (as opposed to reason, which was the characteristic most theologians focused on from the time of Augustine to medieval scholasticism). As a result (centuries later, through much history), humans have come to understand themselves also more in terms of will than reason - we identify freedom not as the ability to reason what is right and choose whether or not to do that, but as the ability to decide what is right. This becomes a problem because if we allow that God decides what is right, our human freedom is limited and we're not much better than slaves. God seems arbitrary and mean, and obeying him is humiliating (and sexually repressive). This is pretty much Christopher Hitchens' definition of religion.

This is not what Christianity is to me though, and it's not what the Bible says, and it's not what centuries of Christian theology say. So most atheists are up in arms against ideas about God that Christians don't even believe. The issue of will and freedom is complicated, but the main point is that when God gave us free will it wasn't a trick. We are free to make whatever choices we want. But our will has limits - we control our conduct in the world, but we can't change how the world works.

Science works because we understand that the earth is subject to physical laws - tons of math. Christianity says that the same God who made the world in such a beautiful and rational way (fallen though it may be) is responsible for moral laws as well. We have free will, so we can break these moral laws (knowingly or unknowingly), but we cannot change the fact they exist. And these laws are not arbitrary style-crampers; they are in fact necessary for human life to flourish. Just as the earth needs to be a certain distance from the sun and travel at a certain velocity through space, spouses must be faithful to each other and neighbours cannot kill each other, or everything goes wrong. Okay, so the results are not as immediate and drastic and widespread when a family breaks up as when a meteor strikes the earth off its course (thank you Hollywood for umpteen visuals of that). But God's moral law is designed for the good of human life, just as his laws of physics also sustain life.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, Paul writes, " When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."

Yes, there are still unanswered questions in science and ethics... but that doesn't mean the answers don't exist. Faith is required to believe that perfect clarity will one day come, but it is not an irrational, brainwashing faith. It is a hope based in the love and goodness of a God who has brought us this far and who responds when we seek him. The rational basis for morality isn't always clear, but faith tells us it is there even when our rationality cannot prove it. As Christians, we don't give up our free will, but we submit it to God and ask for his help. Maybe atheists would say it's the same thing, but it's really not.

Will Pt. 1

At my church we pray the Lord's prayer every week, so I have probably said it more in the last year than the previous 10. I don't feel extra spiritual about it or anything - sometimes I catch myself zoning out part way through despite my best intentions - but saying it regularly gives me time to think about it regularly, and different parts of the prayer stand out different times. Sometimes at the very end of a kickboxing class we have to hold a plank (basically just chill in the push-up position) for 30 or 45 seconds, and more often than not I mutter the Lord's prayer or some Scripture passage I've memorized, and that tends to be enough of a distraction that I don't give up. Those aren't usually very spiritual moments either lol, mostly they are painful and sweaty, BUT again, different things stand out in my mind and I like to notice that.

This week in church the line that stuck out was "thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." These are my thoughts:
  • it is right to submit our wills to God
  • things happen on Earth that are not God's will
  • things also happen that are not our will
  • sometimes God's will is not our will
  • sometimes nobody's will is done - life on Earth is imperfect
  • it takes faith to believe that ultimately God's will is/will be done ("is/will be" representing how difficult it is to talk about God without limiting him to time, which only exists in the universe and doesn't hold any sway over him)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Ah marriage- I suspect that this feeling of learning more about myself and awkwardly transforming into an adult may continue until... death.

Matt was away last weekend at a junior high retreat, so I was without him from Thursday to Sunday. I had exciting (kickboxing!) and noble (cleaning) plans for all the time I thought would be free with Matt not there to cuddle or entertain or listen to play music. Instead, I spent most of Thursday in traffic (still thankful for a car, don't get me wrong!), and Friday went to youth group. Thursday night as I lay sprawled out in bed, I thought about my plans vs. reality, and I felt my brain creeping towards a sulk. But then I thought (in a way that usually means God has a hand in my thoughts) that there is more to life than cleaning and exercise, that nothing was left undone that couldn't be done later, and that the reasons I wasn't able to do EVERYTHING I wished for myself made it possible for Matt to do things he needed to do; my short thought was that wifehood was getting in the way of selfishness, and I think that's the way God made it.

People who don't know me are often surprised to learn that I'm married ("how old are you!? WHY????"), but I think it makes so much sense that having found someone to have and hold who wants to have and hold me back, we have started our life together at this point in our lives rather than waiting for our "youth"/"prime" to pass by and trying to merge whatever lifestyles and habits we created independently based on our own wants and needs.

I am happy and privileged to be a wife - most of the time. Because my husband is phenomenal, the other times are usually due to growing (up) pains, when I have to set my priorities aside, or when I catch myself holding Matt to a higher standard than I keep myself. Sometimes I do have a legitimate complaint or hurt feelings because Matt's last name is not Christ and we both make mistakes. But marriage holds and shapes us together because we are doing it not only for ourselves.

We do it for our future children, that they will have parents who love and cherish each other; we do it for our friends and people around us, that they will see love in action as patience, kindness, self-sacrifice; most of all, we do it for God because we trust that he has called us into a life together and that he will use it for our good and his glory. We like it, don't get me wrong, but we also think the picture is much bigger than us, and that's an important perspective to keep when it's not all fun times :)

Side note: Sometimes it's really fun times though! We went on a random adventure to Scarborough bluffs this week and pretended to feed some birds. That is to say, some birds swam by, we pretended we were throwing bread, more birds came by, we threw some snow. There were probably 60 ducks and 10 sawans all clambering and fighting over nothing. (It was nighttime, so I took no pictures. Thanks again, internet!!) Hopefully they did not die from expending all kinds of energy for no food. I'm sure they all felt shafted and just thought other birds kept getting the bread before them. Except the bird that got hit by a chunk of snow, he might have clued in to the situation. Matt and I were dying with laughter. Next time we'll try to take some bread, promise. PETA hates me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Judge Not

I never really think of myself as a judgmental person... until I stop to think about it. Then I remember that judgment is pretty much central to a lot of my relationships. I tend to have a pretty black-and-white outlook on other people - they are good people or bad people, useful or useless, kind or douche-y. Occasionally people change categories on me, and that is when I catch myself categorizing them in the first place.

I was reminded of this while reading a Christian book this afternoon that quoted Matthew 7:1-5. It says, "Judge not, that you not be judged... Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?... Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

I love this passage because it reminds me how futile my own judgment is. I remember reading this once, and it struck me that if you have just taken a PLANK out of your eye, you might not be so concerned about your brother's speck. Also, if you are going to help someone take something out of their eye, you are going to need to handle that plank issue first, or you will not be able to help much, and you might even make things worse. You could poke your brother's good eye with your own eye-plank! I think that happens a lot in churches - people mean well and are often trying to help, but they just end up making things worse. The easiest people to judge are judgmental Christians!! They make such a mess, lol.

So there's my double-edged Scripture passage for the day - a good reminder, and food for thought about how a judgmental attitude creeps up on me and then makes a mess.

(P.S. Thank you internet for an amazing lego picture!!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunglasses Recommended

That's my kitchen sink - sure looks clean and shiny, doesn't it? My Mom gave props to on her blog so I checked it out again and may or may not attempt this method at housekeeping. Step one is shine your sink, so I did :)

Dear Mom, sorry you had to look at that dead mouse so much. I have been busy AND procrastinating, which is a terrible combination for blogging.

Dear everyone else, I am still trying to figure out a routine for this new semester that involves not only housework, school and work but also contact with the outside world. We'll see how it goes, lol - until then, I thought I'd check in to let you know of my good intentions, and hopefully there will be more posts soon!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Twist-tie the cheese to the trap? Yes, I outsmarted a mouse!

A New Year

Ah, sitting down to write a blog with no idea where to go with it - great start eh? Well, a couple days have gone by in 2011, and I don't want to fall out of blogging habits! I have no resolutions to report, but it's not because I'm lazy or anything! Okay, it might be a little bit of laziness, but I think it's mostly just being satisfied with my habits - I have a membership at a MMA gym where I do kickboxing 1-3 times a week (I accidently went to a kettlebell class on Monday - THAT is crazy!), and the elevators in our building are going to be replaced one at a time over the next few months (meaning only one elevator functioning at a time, meaning lots of taking the stairs to our 11th floor apartment), so I'm giving myself an A for physical activity. My dental hygiene remains good, and my eating habits are.. decent!

So the only resolutions I can come up with are: graduate, stay married, kill the mouse that keeps taking cheese off the trap, love Jesus AND people, and don't let Nimoy die of neglect. Amen.