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Us Against Them?

I’ve been solicited for my opinion on a video that has recently gone viral. Here it is:

I liked it, and I agree with its sentiments. I like the emphasis of spirituality over systemic rules. I also think the video was well done and I appreciate the artistic presentation. I very much enjoyed this video.

I do, however, hold against it that it’s tearing down a straw man. I’ve noticed this a lot lately: a lot of people attacking religion…but nothing from religion in return. I’ve never known someone to argue the other side of this argument! Where are all of the “pro-religiosity” folks that we are rallying against? I appreciate and support people wanting to revive and contribute to the systems they live in. I suppose, if we must, we can create a straw man to rally against, but I think this is just setting people up for disappointment: we’ll never triumph over our imaginary foe. In my experience, it is better to simply affirm what is good. It’s usually not necessary to point out what is wrong in order to point out what is right.

This brings up another issue: if creating an enemy is usually not helpful for the development for one’s argument, then what is it helpful for? I propose that any action, including manufacturing an enemy, is an attempt to meet a personal need. I wonder where these videographers would claim their affirmation or self-worth normally comes from?

Faith and others

A friend of mine, John, recently found himself in a difficult situation where, out of love for his friend, Jill, he felt compelled to challenge her about what he thought was a poor decision. John acted out of love, but Jill felt judged. In my opinion, John still did the right and loving thing, although that friendship is most likely over now.

Not actually John and Jill. Not actually anybody really…

As is understandable, John is upset. Now in one sense this could be very good; losing a friend is a kind of death. In another sense, however, this would be very bad because it’s never right or safe to allow others’ feelings to influence us without our approval.

What I mean is this: John is having difficultly with the fact that Jill doesn’t like him anymore. Why might this be? I think John unknowingly gave Jill too much authority over his perceived worth (the “am I good or bad, and if so how much?” factor). Faith can play a significant role in a situation like this.

Before I give my opinion, I’m interested in yours. How do you think John’s faith in God might help him in his situation?

(The identities of the above characters have been kept confidential by random assignment of name and/or change of gender. Any correspondence to actual persons is purely coincidental.) 

On identity.

Oftentimes I feel the urge to be outgoing and extroverted with others. I think I’m not the only one who feels pressure in social situations to act a certain way or be a certain type of person. In my opinion, this is usually not a healthy impulse. I think it is always better to embrace my natural personality and explore how I can honestly contribute. What I have to offer is always better than what others want me to have to offer (if they’re different).

As a rule, I ask myself “does this serve the kingdom of heaven?” It’s not always a definitive yes or no, but the answer is usually more one than the other. Life is best when I am serving the good pleasure of my King and His Kingdom (c.f. Matt 6:33 and Luke 12:31 – I’ll comment on the “Prosperity Gospel,” which is not what I’m espousing, in a later post).

Your thoughts?

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