February 25, 2010

Socrates in the City

Yesterday I attended a lecture held by Socrates in the City. I want to tell you about it, but more, articulate what the whole experience made me think about. The speaker was... intriguing. And wrong. I was okay with that, because the whole point of Socrates in the City, and the way I see life, involves people being free to ask questions and dialogue with people who disagree. But listening to him, I was bewildered by thinking about how to approach this ... intellectual conversation, dialogue, exchange. How do you engage?

He began by talking about how the rapid extermination of the dinosaurs millions of years ago by some large meteor may be proof that God needs to "press the reset button" and correct his mistakes. He said that God is learning how to run the world. My mind protested with skepticism and disgust. Then he went on, questioning why God allows death and suffering. He talked about how people have been drawn away from belief in God because of that problem of pain. Then he claimed that he had the answer for this problem: God isn't intentionally malevolent, he just doesn't know how to run the world! We need to help God, and argue with him when he's making mistakes! *sigh* I don't think I can do justice to all the things he said. Just, it made me terribly sad that he does not have the sovereignty of God to rely on, that he has no certainty that all things will work out for good. He sees God as needed to explain the origin of matter and the origin of consciousness. But in his eyes, there is no all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God who works everything to His will.

So, how to respond: I would rather choose compassion and concern than repulsion. But frustratingly, he claimed that this whole interpretation was biblical. Tracing everything back to the Hebrew and relying heavily on certain interpreters and commentators, he argued that sins are only accidental stupid mistakes, that God encourages people to doubt him, and that, ultimately, God stands aside as evil prevails, content to simply recalibrate the system when things get too out-of-hand.

This is the part where knowing how I ought, or at least how I could respond was most unfamiliar. Is there hope to convince him that he's wrong? Perhaps a close friend could help change his mind... This made me think that I haven't ever changed anyone's mind. I've given them more knowledge, more perspective perhaps, but I could never take credit for altering someone's worldview. I highly doubt that anyone can do that... change of heart comes slow, and God can only change hearts. But, what can I do, HOW can I or anyone take part in this education or counter mis-education? I suppose, people can present the opposing view, so that those listening are more able to see the truth.

It's just... a foreign concept to me, of making truth known to a large group of people. My view of communication has been a very personal one, about talking to individual people, or about encouraging people though my speeches. Going to this Socrates in the City presentation reminded me that there is such a thing as right and wrong and of reasoned argument between the two. It makes me wonder at the impact such dialogue has on individuals. How many intellectuals are out there whose faith hangs upon discussions like these? What would it be like to take part in the exchange, to influence what people believe, not just how they live?

February 23, 2010

Places.

imagining [finds] a place to live from, safely from my keyboard
references inform rank, or gently snub value -
Firm [scraped out but put on]

trusting [finds] a place to live to, timidly to the faces
openness deepens certainty, or regretfully makes vulnerable -
Searching [desirous but fearful]

seeking [finds] a place to live in, finally in Love
faith holds up hope, or sees the invisible -
Secure [this mind surpassed and dwelling found]

February 16, 2010

Romans 8

One day at MASTERS, I wanted to know how I could love people better. In answer, Marie asked me, "Who is the saddest person you know?"

About an hour ago, that question returned to my mind and I knew the answer. Me.

...

I hope happiness is not a farce, I hope I am not telling before I have seen fully. (I know I need to read the artist scene in The Great Divorce. Actually, I need to read the whole thing. I will, I will. And soon.)

I was Orual. (I am Orual.)

I wrote, "I won't let myself think that I hate my life. I want to rid myself of angst, of shallow pasted-on smiles. I cry everyday and yet I still can't get over it. I don't want to be seen. All I can create or express is my own frustration at the ugliness of myself."

I thought of how Orual had performed Psyche's tasks for her, bearing her burden. I wished that blaming myself would make me suffer too, so I would be glorified. I found myself reading Romans 8. "We are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

I wanted joy, and thought of Romans 5:2: "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God." I was afraid that I could not hope for glory because I did not suffer with him; my suffering was self-inflicted. And if these problems were my own, I must solve them myself.

But then, rescue. "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?" I was allowed to hope, able to pray, "O Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight."

I am Orual, and I was still afraid that I would never be Psyche. But "those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." I knew at last that I could hope for the glory of God, the beauty that would make even me beautiful.

For nothing, not even myself, can separate me from the love of God.

February 11, 2010

Unscrambling my mind and wanting to see people as they are.

I don't just want to be touched, to sit passively, to receive, to be driven to thought. I see people around me and I want to touch them, to connect with their souls. But I don't know how! Every opportunity they give me, I must understand how my thoughts fit into theirs, and listen, be touched, be moved, and somehow, move back, express myself in words that don't say what I want them to. Rearranging is hard; I suppose it's the price of connection. And if I start with myself, I can't get anywhere, well, I suppose this, me speaking, writing, now goes against that. I feel like I have to start with myself, and see myself as I am, before I can honestly interact with those around me. But I'm not giving anything to anyone, I'm just expressing my thoughts.

All of my thoughts are so jumbly, they ramble around not wanting to stay on topic. I think, I don't want to talk to you unless we'll have a good conversation, and in so doing, I use people, make them things. This reminds me of the thought from the Sacredness of Questioning Everything that so convicted me:

"Like the God in whose image people are made, people are irreducible. There's always more to a person - more stories, more life, more complexities - than we know. ... Perversion is a way of managing, getting down to business, getting a handle on people as if they were things."

This reminds me of how I approach people sometimes. I think in terms of justice: that they cannot expect me to solve their problems. Looking at it objectively, I can only do so much. They cannot place blame on me for their own self-constructed false dilemmas. But the thought of mercy breaks in: I think of the comment I wrote on Micah's blog, was it yesterday?: mercy bewilders. It sends my own little scheme, my own perfect categories sprawling. Mercy is redemption, as David Dark says, redeeming. Giving things their proper, right value. In a way, we all deserve mercy. But perhaps that muddles the issue.

I'm still thinking in the back of my head what to make of this that I'm writing. I wonder if it's more introspective journalling, or blogging, or purposeful communication. I wonder if I'm saying this to declare one of my own self-constructed false dilemmas: a belief that I simply cannot connect with people around me, or edit my mood to fit what they're saying. (I, ugh! don't want to think of replying to emails or having conversations with people as obligations!)

Maybe I've said all of this because it had to be said, to somehow give me peace so I can reach and change and touch, so I can understand myself enough to know how to respond. They are thoughts that I want others to hear, but I don't know why: I mean really, who cares for this one-sided transparency, this irrational trust? Or perhaps this is all spurred on by the lack of risk involved in virtual communication. Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is the message. I hate to think that everything I try to say through buzz, or blogger, or chat, is all colored, changed, by the media (but oh, it is, it must be) and that more than that, my words are only going into one stream, one message, joining along with every other self-absorbed sharing of thoughts in the same type of media, the full force of which go to say something about people's short attention spans and the impersonality of their deepest friendships.

Who is listening? If I am to be honest, I'd say that I'm not. Or, that too often, I forget to. I forget to hear with all of myself, I forget to see and stare and know. Maybe it's because the communication is ongoing. Contacts have a constant access to a distracted version of myself. Now that is why I stay invisible so much. Because when I am online, I want to give my attention to people, to focus on them. To stop my perversion. (Still working off David Dark's ideas.)

So, if my own distracted mind has been somewhat emptied onto the screen, am I ready to be open, and more, to listen, and ... allow my mind to be reorganized? Is that even the point of this ramble?

I just hope that seeing myself sanely will help me to love. And whatever happened to losing my life to save it? I've been thinking about that, too.

[dubbed overexpressive imaginative prose]

The stars flickered around her like shooting swords of light, and she reached for them, clasping onto the bars. She swung from them, every dream she chanced upon making her sight more colorful, more pressing. Why bother to try to follow them all? How could she discern a path among these lights, circling above her, around her, below her, like a carousel inside a hall of mirrors? As the world spun, she was divided, pulled every way. And at the very center of her soul, she cried out, I just want to be good.

February 8, 2010

Thinking about debate.

I feel alone in the way I approach debate.

I feel responsible (in varying sorts of ways) for lots of LDers. I love them. I want to help them.

I'm left confused about how best to help them grow, if they need more debate theory or more practice or more intense study of the topic. (That last one is what I need, I know that.)

I don't know how beneficial it would be to give all that I know about the topic to debaters I know. Teaching form is different than explaining content. I feel like most of what I know is self-taught and competition-taught, but I must have gotten this theory from somewhere. I can't remember how much CFC has taught me, or how much reading random sources other places has contributed.

My participation in LD this year is just really quite strange. It's also a weird that knowing how to debate doesn't guarantee that you win rounds. And I wonder if I need to know how to win better, and somehow change how I speak to be more professional or something, or if I just need better content. I kind of want to be coached in what I need to do to debate better, not just to understand better.

And I wonder if I should look for people to commiserate with (not just in my own debating, but more in how I feel about helping everyone else), or expect people to understand.

February 2, 2010

(call it nonsense, I don't know what it is)

I want the darkest, most searing honesty there is. I want to be torn apart, wrenched away. I want to be steeped, to be stamped upon. I want to be broken open until I spill over. I want to be torn to shreds and thrown on the beach until all I can feel is peace, peace washing over me.

...