Government Is.

I have been considering the nature of government lately* and been wondering to what extent government can be un-biased, fair to all, and objective. Also, to what degree can the government really be separate from religion? Below are some of my thoughts, along with some ideas I’ve picked up from others.

The nature of government is one of enforcement. Nobody would rightly call an organization that merely makes suggestions, recommendations, or “rules” it never enforces a government. All true governments have some means of regulating their laws (or whims and fancies), whether it be police, the military, posse’s** or some similar thing.

Furthermore, the nature of government is to enforce something specific; enforcements originate from many things (e.g. “laws,” “decrees”), but they all bear one similarity: they have a definite nature. They may enforce on drug use, theft, the number of pets you own, or perhaps the color of a person’s hair (anything, really), but they don’t enforce sltjlshtlehshsbeltljet. Governments don’t say “eating beef is both legal and illegal” (unless perhaps they are insane).

Consequently, there is NO issue on which governments don’t take a stance. That may sound funny, but at a basic level it’s true. The stance may be, “This is perfectly legal,” “This is illegal and is punishable by a fine of $100,” “This is illegal and punishable by death,” and, in some cases, “You once offended me (the king) and therefore you are sentenced to a life in jail.”

To sum this up: the nature of government is to enforce views on others. Where those views come from varies country by country and issue by issue, but that statement is true of all governments.

So, when people say in regards to something like the hotly contested issue of abortion, “Well, I believe this is wrong but I don’t think I should impose my views on others,” are they saying something nonsensical? Somewhat. I believe that cheating is wrong, but do I think I should support a law to make all cheating in card games illegal? No. However, I believe that stealing is wrong, and I support the fact that we have laws against theft.

If someone’s sole reason for not supporting or opposing a law is that they don’t think they should impose their views on others, then the logical flow of their statement is against government entirely. After all, if you don’t think people should enforce their views, then you don’t think government should enforce the view that theft is wrong.

Really, it comes down to which issue you’re discussing. The question should not be, “Should I support enforcing my beliefs or not?” but rather, “Which beliefs of mine should be enforced and why?” Then comes the tricky part — answering that last question.

I’m thinking to write more about this, but we’ll see…

*When I drafted this weeks ago it was “lately.” I just haven’t gotten around to posting it until now.

**Technically, this should be spelled “posses,” but that would probably fail get the idea across.

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This Song

It’s beautiful. It’s true. God’s true.

Holy Is The Lord

Just two things on this song:

It’s giving a picture of when God told Abraham to offer up his son as a sacrifice. Before Abraham killed his son, however, God stopped him and explained that it was a test. A. W. Tozer writes of this event to say that in doing this, God was wrenching away a sense of possession from Abraham; after he had to wrestle with himself and God and surrender his dearest “possession,” he would no longer be held back by considering things his own. “Mine” would not have the same meaning after he had to acknowledge everything is God’s.

Secondly, Jesus (and the Father) did this Himself. Only this time it went to the point of torture, separation, and death. And this time, He did it, not to treat any need in His own soul, but to give us life. Yet, as Abraham rightly guessed, God could cause life to come after death, and Jesus defeated death. First though, was an incredibly painful sacrifice.

Thanks, God.

See Genesis 22:1-18, Hebrews 11:17-19.

Thanks, God.

[Listen to the song if you haven’t yet. ¬†ūüôā ¬† (Or listen to it twice.)]

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Division by 0

People debate what something divided by 0 equals. Some people argue that 1 / 0 equals infinity; others say it has no meaning. In Java programming, dividing a number by 0 gives the result nan (which stands for Not-A-Number).

In support of the idea that division by 0 is infinity, people cite the fact that the smaller the number you divide something by, the bigger the answer gets:

10 / 100 = 0.1
10 / 10 = 1
10 / 1 = 10
10 / 0.1 = 100
10 / 0.01 = 1000
(and so on…)

The closer the divisor gets to 0, the larger the answer gets. Thus, by extension, division by an infinitely small number would give the result of an infinitely large number.

I however, disagree with this view. I think that the answer lies with the definition of division, and that division by 0 has no real value. Growing up, division was explained to me thus: if you have a number and you break in to x number of pieces, how big will those pieces be? While this definition helped me understand the concept, it doesn’t seem to work for decimal divisors: after all, how do you break 10 into 0.1 pieces?

Perhaps a more accurate way to look at division is this way: if you break 10 into pieces that are 0.1 in size, how many of those pieces will you get? What about division by a larger number though? 10 / 100 — if you break 10 into pieces a 100 big…how many do you get? You only get 0.1, 1 tenth, of a piece 100 big.

With this definition, you get this: 10 / 0 — if you break 10 into pieces that are 0 big, how many will you get? You might be tempted to answer “infinity.” After all, you can add 0 together an infinite amount of times and still have plenty of room to spare. But here’s the thing: even if you have an infinite number of 0s, you won’t get back up to 10. Infinity 0s does not equal 10; infinity 0’s just equals 0. After breaking 10 into an infinite number of 0s, you still have 10 left over. Division by 0 simply makes no sense. That’s why I think it’s undefined, rather than infinity.

Two quick notes:

1:
Division is supposed to be the opposite of multiplication: 8 / 2 = 4 —- 2 * 4 = 8 However, 8 / 0 = [for the sake of argument: infinity] —- 0 * infinity = 0, not 8.

2:
As I heard someone point out once, infinity really isn’t a number; it’s a concept.

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Hardcore Determinism

I was cleaning out a drawer last week, and I came across an old poem I had written titled, “Hardcore Determinism” (See the bottom of this post). The poem is more or less nonsense; it’s on determinists, people who will believe what they believe no matter what you argue.

As a good friend once said to me, a determinist is someone who’s logic is not flawed, but it’s like a ring. No inherent flaws exist in their logic, but the logic is circular and it’s rather narrow-minded.

For example, take people who believe that reality is just an illusion or a dream. If you try to argue with them, perhaps even stomp on their toes to try to show them that pain is real, they will merely pass it off as another illusion. Within the framework and lens they have set up for themselves, what they say makes sense, even though to most people it seems like pish-posh. After all, how do you argue with someone who tells you that you are a figment of their imagination, by telling them you are conscious and you know you’re real? They’ll just pass that off as part of the illusion. There comes a point at which, when someone becomes unwilling to believe otherwise, arguing becomes practically fruitless.

The dwarves from C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle come to mind — the ones who believe they are in the stable when in reality they are in the entrance to Aslan’s country. Alsan gives them a feast, tells them where they really are, and yet they willingly see it as more stable-stuff, upon which Aslan states he can do no more for them (now, whether there was NOTHING he could do for them is a whole other discussion — perhaps a more important discussion).

I don’t know that I can say I’ve actually come across someone who’s a strict determinist, though I have come across people who seem dead set on a certain stance.

 

Here’s the poem. It’s essentially speaking of the nonsense that determinism can lead to:

Hardcore Determinism

Topsy Turvy twinkle Doom…
I stare at the wall of the other room.
Trip Toss sprinkle Zoom…
I’ve swept the stairs with the other broom.

Crash, kerplunk – a yell – whoosh
The chained-tight dog is running loose
Crack, clang – whisper – noose
The dog ran over the flying moose

Lurch-n-lumber zip not Night
I lost all but all my fights
Ling’ring lemon tip some Light
I, through sound, won’t fly a kite

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Prayer

I was thinking the other day about the phrase “the power of prayer.” ¬†It started when I was hit by the thought, “there is no such thing as ‘the power of prayer.’ ” — meaning that the act of praying is not where the power is; the power really is from God. ¬†There is no inherent power in words or thoughts, spoken or unspoken. ¬†However, something in these statements didn’t sound entirely right. ¬†(I remember thinking, without clearly knowing why, “Dad wouldn’t fully accept this train of thought.”) ¬†Then I realized I was forgetting something. ¬†Prayer does have a ‚Äúpower,‚ÄĚ but it‚Äôs a different kind of power. ¬†The power of prayer is the power, not to move mountains, but to move God. ¬†That is in essence what prayer is; to pray is to make a request of God, to ask Him to do something He otherwise might not do.

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Post #3

Two days ago, I listened to the song “My one thing” by Rich Mullins, wherein he quotes the verse “the pure in heart shall see God.” I’ve been wrestling with/considering some of the promises of God lately. This one has always excited me, though I haven’t thought of it in a while.

“The pure in heart shall see God.” Jesus constantly pushed past people’s outward actions and looked at their hearts. And, of all the blessings He could list, He says that they shall see God; I find that both intriguing and exciting. Part of what excites me is that it’s not a maybe — “they Shall.” And seeing God is…well…not sure I could put words to it. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

Unlike 1 John 3:2 (Which speaks of Heaven/the second coming), I don’t think the verse Rich Mullins quoted is talking about Heaven per-say, because it is not heart-purity that gets us there.

In considering this, another verse my Dad likes to quote comes to mind, “…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) Pursuit of God shouldn’t be halfhearted.

Oh that I may have a pure heart…

 

[In case anyone’s interested, here’s a link to the song on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA6a6RHkUuU%5D

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The God Behind the Clouds/Music/InsertWordHere

C.S. Lewis had a very interesting passage in his “autobiography” Surprised by Joy, wherein he talked about his pursuit of what he classified as “Joy.” ¬†Before he became a Christian, he absolutely loved several mythology books, in the reading of which he was filled with an¬†ecstasy, a sort of desire and fulfillment at the same time. ¬†In the contemplating of these mythical worlds, he (to some degree anyways) experienced the “joy” he was searching for.

In the passage, he speaks of wanting to go back to the joy, wanting to experience it again. ¬†However, he said that he “tricked” himself, thinking that the joy came as a sort of mental state that he would try to recover. ¬†When joy came, he would sometimes turn upon the joy and reflect on the joy itself, as if his joy was his source of joy. ¬†In reality, the joy came because of his reflecting on something “behind” the joy. ¬†(Not sure if I’m explaining this well or not)

Similarly, when we listen to a song about God, it is the God we are singing about that matters and that gives meaning to the song. ¬†As soon as we go to the song itself — the tune, the way the singer sings, etc. — for fulfillment, we lose (most of) the point of it.

When we stop worshiping to reflect on how great it feels to be before God and we begin to worship for the sake of the experience, it ceases to be real worship.  When we are happy and try to remain happy by thinking about our happiness and how great it feels to be happy rather than what actually made us happy in the first place, it collapses in on itself.

I think this applies to a lot of things. ¬†I think it applies to returns from retreats. ¬†I remember coming home from a Butler, PA missions trip the one summer, full of aspiration “not to lose the community and experience I had there.” ¬†I went at it by trying to “hold on” to the experience, trying to keep the excitement from fading from my mind. ¬†This didn’t…work.

One other example: Two years ago I was excited for Christmas to come.  I always enjoy the day.  However, I got caught up in wanting to enjoy it to the extent that, during the day, I was asking myself internally how much I was enjoying it and trying to make myself happy by thinking about it.  I did enjoy a good portion of that day, but I enjoyed it most when I simply lived.

I would like to clarify that I don’t think music only has value when it pulls our minds towards God/we’re worshiping to it. ¬†Music can be beautiful in its own right.¬† I’m speaking more about turning from the initial object of our attention to our own feelings or emotions.

Hope that’s at least somewhat clear. ¬†ūüôā ¬†I found C.S. Lewis’s reflections rather interesting and they surprised me with their perceptiveness.

God’s good!

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