Monthly Archives: May 2014

What We Believe Matters

d9c3ecf1187afd3ca3005ee7a857adc9 Elliot Rogers, did a bad thing. It’s a bad thing to take the lives of innocent, unsuspecting people. Why did he do it? A common answer will be that he was sick. Medical professionals failed to get the chemicals in his brain properly adjusted and that’s all there is to it. The solution then is to continue to experiment with chemicals so that people won’t act so violently. Another explanation could be that Elliot failed to learn the proper techniques for personal deescalation— if he could only have learned the proper use of breathing & meditation. If he could have utilized happy thought therapy or appropriate distraction techniques then this tragedy could have been averted. I am not convinced that chemical adjustment or technique adaptation is the ultimate solution to preventing this kind of societal harm. Is there another reason why Elliot Rogers did what he did? I think so. He did what he did because of belief. The story that he was believing shaped his life and led him to this dark place. What did he believe?

  • About himself he believed that he was the best and most important person in the world. He refers to himself as “the perfect gentleman.”
  • About women he believed that they were on this earth to give him pleasure
  • About men he believed that none should achieve more pleasure than he.
  • About money he believed that it was the only antidote for his loneliness.

The life story that he believed could be summarized in the following way: I am the most important person in this world, people exist to serve my needs, if they don’t a great injustice has been served me that will require deadly retribution. Society is built to produce pleasure only for the rich, beautiful, and famous. Because I am unable to accomplish these necessary life enhancers I will react destructively against a society that guarantees my misery. All that matters is the pleasure that a life can produce, if a life cannot produce pleasure (in particular sexual pleasure) than it’s not worth living. Is there another story, that could have shaped Elliot’s life?

  • About himself: What if he believed that he was a broken person, but in that brokeness he had been met with Divine sacrificial love, which led him to be convinced that no matter what he was loved and forgiven.
  • About women: What if he believed that he was put on this earth to serve and bless others as an act of worship to this God of forgiveness.
  • About men: What if he believed that he was called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep instead of comparing and resenting.
  • About money: What if he believed that he was never truly alone because the Spirit of God was with him. What if he believed that he was inseparably and organically connected to a body of people that loved the same God and in this he could find a loving community that cared little for riches, fame, or external beauty.

This is a real story, it’s the Jesus story. Countless millions have shaped their life around this story. Why would we push this story to the margins of our society? Why would we choose to ignore it? Why not embrace it? If Elliot grew up shaping his life around this story, none of us would be talking about him right now, and a lot fewer tears would have been shed in California over the weekend. If you care to hear Elliot’s final speech, click the link below. We all needed him so badly to believe a different story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50JbI4-V-UQ

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What Caused Canada to Become Secular?

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A review of the masters thesis paper Secularization in English Canada in the 1960’s — By Steve Morris

Canada is a secular country. But it wasn’t always that way, In fact, it used to be an exclusively Christian country. What happened? Steve points the finger not so much at secularists for the change but actually at Christians. In the 19th and 20th centuries Christianity faced a threat previously unseen, and more dangerous than any ancient persecution. Darwin had posited an understanding of a world without God. Religion seemed to be standing in the way of sexual freedom and the pursuit of pleasure. Abuses of power in religion had sickened many and modernism had embraced a natural explanation for historical events. Supernatural explanations had lost their credibility in the main stream.

This was the atmosphere of the 60’s and it was proving toxic to traditional Christianity. If the faith wanted to remain relevant in this new society there would have to be significant adjustments.  The neoliberal’s were willing to make the necessary sacrifices to salvage Christianity. The key book in the 60’s that spelled out this new Christian way was entitled Honest to God  in it the author dismissed all the supernatural stories as myth. He created a Christianity that would have a morality based on pragmatism. Love and freedom, not theology would be the two pillars on which this new Christian faith would stand.

Canadian magazines picked up on this “new way” and popularized it in the 60’s. There was very little counterpoint to this version of Christianity as it regularly found it’s way into these magazines. With convincing evidence, Steve suggests that it was exactly this watering down of traditional forms of Christianity that ended up destroying the soul of faith in the hearts of believers. In essence the neoliberal movement which intended to save Christianity is actually what crushed it, and pushed it to the margins of society. Ironically, neoliberalism was the vehicle through which many in Canada came to legitimize unbelief creating the vacuum that secularism has filled.

The neoliberals bemoaned the state of the church “the last thing the church exists to be is an organization for the religious. It’s charter is to be a servant of the world.” the complaint was that the traditional church, had become solely focused on itself as an institution, with it’s own language and traditions. I am far from being a neoliberal, but in this criticism I agree. I disagree however with their solution. For the neoliberals the way forward was to abandon the reason to serve and instead just serve. It’s enough to believe service is good and it’s what Christians are supposed to do. For conservatives the solution would be to emphasize the ultimate reason to serve, by looking at the true life story of the ultimate servant, building out a culture of service from the source — from the 60’s forward, in measurable categories of “serving” it would be an interesting study to look at who has served the world more. Liberals who view Jesus as myth, conservatives who believe Jesus to be real, or secularists who have no opinion about him. I suspect greater levels of service would be found in those who genuinely believe that Jesus came to serve us so that we can serve others.

If you would like to read Steve’s thesis Click Here, I highly recommend it.

Jesus & the Apostles Christianity’s Early Rise (National Geographic)

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