The Universe Next Door, Dr. James W. Sire, ©1976 Inter-Varsity Press; In a world that perfers the amalgamated mush of muddy-headed thinkers, Dr. Sire, philosopher at London University in his Preface writes, "I am convinced that for a person to be fully conscious intellectually, he should not only be able to detect the world views of others, but be aware of his own -- why it is his and why in light of so many options he thinks it is true".
Sire presents a basic world view catalog defining the handful of world views that all people in some fashion subscribe to -- whether consciously or not. He simplifies each of these six world views demystifying their complexity:
Theism, that ultimate truth is embodied in a Person -- sometimes called The Great Other, a personal God who desires to converse (dialogue, not chat) with His work;
Deism, that the God who is there isn't just hard of hearing, He doesn't have ears to hear with. If you try calling Him, He doesn't answer. Matter of fact, He probably can't see what's going on, and is powerless to order His out-of-wack invention. Somewhat like a God who has Alzheimer's disease;
Naturalism, that Nobody Super-natural (literally above, as in more natural) is there, so hit the dusty road by yourself, Joe;
Nihilism, that life is meaningless (with this exception that Nihilists seem to struggle with helping others understand their meaningless philosophy?!)
Existentialism, life is to be understood from the individual's interpretation of the experience (whether or not God exists and speaks);
and, Eastern Pantheistic Monism, that whatever is from the loftiest of creation to it's most banal, if you look close enough, are all sub-units of Godness -- from the Halls of Scholasticism to the Halls of Sanitation, it's all an undifferentiated part of the same. Crudely put in its extreme implications, if you like camping, there's little difference between you and the microscopic bug infested sludge in the bucket you're carrying off to the dump. To attain Nirvana - a blissful state of being is to disengage oneself with identity to this world and become one with whatever is behind it all -- the "It" remaining unidentified.
Beyond these, there exists few options for understanding world perspectives and what it is that motivates people to get up in the morning.
Our frame of reference (what you and I take for granted, what we don't try to prove) are presuppositions that we act on without question. Stopping for red lights is one such frame of reference we don't much labor over. It pretty much controls us as part of our beliefs. Unfortunately, sometimes our beliefs can be wrong. Just ask those folk who "stopped" at red lights and "go-ed" at the green ones today who are dead for not questioning their belief in green lights. They probably might want to double think their guiding frame of reference.
Realists believe that some things never change -- that absolute truth exists and what we learn is important. Fortunately, the English language is one of many languages of the Western Realism. Idealists believe that no absolutes exist, so learn to cope with change. To an Idealist, the only absolute is there are NO absolutes. Of this, they are absolutely sure. John Dewey's Progressive education has insisted on the values of Idealism resulting in the educational products of the past several decades. How not what you learn is important in order to cope with the endless changes that try to disturb your tranquility. Eastern cultures espouse Idealism. To say all people think the same is to insult and disrespect their philosophical uniqueness. There IS a choice to be made whether or not we choose to make it.
Once again -- Dr. Sire suggests we know the views of others since they're different than ours. Then know your own... and why in light of so many options, [you] think it is true.
This Is Life Eternal, John, the Apostle, ©circa 50-60 AD--These words are from the last great portion of sayings Jesus spoke the night He was betrayed by those closest to him. Moments later, He would be brought before the current civil and religious magistrates and rulers of his day, falsely charged, spit upon, mocked and brutally beaten, and then forced to carry his cross to death.
His followers were still with him. Why? It's hard to tell as their hopeful childhood dreams of living in a kingdom, a realm without outsider interference and dominance was being sorely and utterly dashed to pieces. They had walked and talked and lived with Jesus for not much more than 3 years, and little did they know that within a handful of hours, Jesus... this unique Man of human history, who said the things He said, and did the things He did; who spoke like no other because He spoke with a power and authority not seen before (or since) - common folk heard Him gladly... yet He, within a handful of hours would be dead.
Check it out: This is Life Eternal
I would imagine that the LAST WORDS of instruction anybody spoke to family or friends would be pretty important to pay attention to, right? Those final words would express what is most important to the speaker. We all can imagine being in that situation; because I'm sure we've all asked ourselves what would I want my family and/ or friends to know and remember that is most important to me.
Well... the following are those words, the largest portion of known words Jesus spoke at one time - that time being the night He would be betrayed by Judas. Obviously, these recorded words here indicate what was most memorable for at least one who followed Him. That follower was named John; as history records, John was the last of Jesus' follwers to died. Three letters which make of parts of the New Testament were also written by him. John not only lived the longest, but as history turns out... he is the one to write the last book, its title is translated as: The Apocalypse (or the Revelation) of Jesus Christ.
Professor Edersheim of Oxford University, wrote of Jesus: "If He be not the Christ, He a least did the Christ's work. If He be not the Christ, then there has never been before or after him a Christ. If He be not the Christ, there never will be a Christ."
The introductory chapter written by John whose brother James was the first disciple to be martyred; John who was the only man to fearlessly follow Jesus through the night of trials accusations and sentencing, who stood with Jesus' mother until he was told to take her to his home, who returned and stood at the Cross while Jesus hung there and bled, and suffered and died. It's interesting that John lived the longest of all the original disciples. He also wrote: The Revelation
Communion, Whitley Strieber, ©1987 Avon Books -- My copy says, "Communion -- A TRUE STORY". All I can say is if it isn't true... if this didn't really happen on December 26, 1985; then, Strieber and the Publishers should be held liable for fraud on the public.
One bit of information mentioned in Communion which caught my attention was that the Russian name Chernobyl, infamous for its nuclear power plant disaster, translates into English -- Wormwood, the same name mentioned in The Book of the Revelations, chapter 8, verses 10 - 11 "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood or Chernobyl: and the third part of the waters became [Chernobyl]; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."
Once again, if Communion isn't true, take Streiber to court! But, if you do decide to read it, try not to read it at home when you're alone. You'll definitely get the willies!
The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis, ©1980 Macmillan Publishing Company -- In his address "Learning in War-time"given at Oxford University Church during Evensong, October 22, 1939, the prolific apologist responds to the question -- Why study when there's a war [against Hitler's Nazis] going on? Today's nagging question might be "Why study at all? Why learn?" to which Lewis still adequately replies, "a cultural life will exist.... Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.... A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age." Lewis (p 28-29)
In one of many provocative chapters in Mere Christianity, ©1975 Macmillan Publishing Company, Lewis points out how "real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of -- all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain -- and, of course, you find that what we call 'seeing a table' lands you in mysteries and complications which you hardly get to the end of." Lewis (p 32)
Insightfully, C.S. Lewis considers "The Rival Conceptions of God" and reminds people of faith one thing we need not believe -- "that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake.... The first big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not.
[According to Encyclopedia Britannica, 1993, only 6 % of the total world population claim atheism as their world view -- definitely, a minority of thought wheen compared to peoples of faith.]
On this point, Christianity lines up with the majority -- lines up with ancient Greeks and Romans, modern savages, Stoics, Platonists, Hindus, Mohammedans, etc., against the modern Western European materialists." Lewis (p 29)
other Books by C.S. Lewis:
The Abolition of Man
The Great Divorce, ©1946 Macmillan Publishing Company -- in his Preface, Lewis states:
"Blake wrote the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I have written of their Divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I know what he meant. But in some sense or other the attempt to make that marriage is perennial. The attempt is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable "either-or" ; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain. This belief I take to be a disastrous error. You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys.... We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a pool but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good." Lewis (Preface)
The Problem of Pain
The Pilgrim's Regress, ©1983 Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company -- a few Lewis quotes that caught my imagination:
"... Is it not true that they were illiberal, narrow, bigoted? 'They were narrow. The thing they had charge of was narrow: it was the Road. They found it. They sign-posted it. They kept it clear and repaired it." (p 155)
"The Guide laughed. 'You are falling into their own error', he said, 'the change is not radical, nor will it be permanent. That idea depends on a curious disease which they have all caught -- an inability to disbelieve advertisements. To be sure, if the machines did what they promised, the change would be very deep indeed. Their next war, for example, would change the state of their country from disease to death. They are afraid of this themselves -- though most of them are old enough to know by experience that a gun is no more likely than a toothpaste or a cosmetic to do the things its makers say it will do. It is the same with their machines. Their labour-saving devices multiply drudgery; their aphrodisiacs make them impotent; their amusements bore them; their rapid production of food leaves half of them starving, and their devices for saving time have banished leisure from their country. There will be no radical change. And as for permanence -- consider how quickly all machines are broken and obliterated.'" Lewis (pg 186)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Four Loves
Freedom of Simplicity ©1981 Harper & Row, Publishers, and Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster -- the author dedicates these books to "Dallas Willard whose life reflects the grace of simplicity in all its manifold complexity". Simplicity is far more than the de-accumulation of dust collecting items. Living in a society of "gimme's" and "grabbers" still enslaved to traditions and the latest fads of men, simplicity is usually lost in the pile. But simplicity is "a pivotal paradox for us to understand... [it] is both a grace and a discipline. An old Shaker hymn articulates this double reality with amazing clarity. Joyfully, there is the affirmation,
'Tis a gift to be simple,
'tis a gift to be free.
as well as the assertion that we must,
Turn and turn,
Till we come round right.
Simplicity is a Grace because it is given... but simplicity is also a discipline because we are called to do something. Simplicity involves a consciously chosen course of action involving both group and individual life." Foster (pg 6-7)
Worlds in Collision ©1977 POCKET BOOK Edition and Earth in Upheaval, Immanuel Velikovsky (one time student of psychologist Sigmund Freud with several earned doctorates) -- Preface to his paperback edition of Worlds in Collision -- "First published in 1950, this book was left unchanged in all subsequent printings. This was so by design: [Velikovsky] wished to keep the text in its original form in order that, unaltered, it should face all subsequent discoveries in the fields it covers or touches upon." And why? Well, in the 1950's, Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision climbed to the top of the best-seller list while Dr. Harlow Shapley, director of the Harvard College Observatory who originated the oft quoted statement, "if Dr. Velikovsky is right, the rest of us are crazy..." Shapely along with scientific and collegiate communities' pressured and threatened Macmillan books causing the Publishing House to take an unprecedented historical step. While Worlds in Collision held the number one position on The New York Times list, Macmillan gave it to Doubleday, which had no textbook division and thus was immune to the boycott threats. And these were educators!
So, read his books. And the next time you drive by those La Brea tar pits over on Wilshire Blvd, you'll be certain to slow your pace a bit. Doesn't it make you want to know what all the fuss was about? And by the way, what if Dr. Velikovsky was right?
Velikovsky's Earth in Upheaval was the center of discussion between Dr. Albert Einstein and the author during Einstein's last eighteen months. Upon his death, it was also noted that Worlds in Collision lay open on Einstein's desk. Maybe, all the others were crazy!
Join them as they wander through discussion of issues such as human nature and spirituality, belief, good works, prayer, forgiveness and the afterlife.
One venturesome friend proposes that it might be more exciting not knowing exactly where youíre going. The other insightfully challenges the idea of taking a chance and ending up in the wrong place. Does it really make a difference what you believe?
You will be surprised by the fresh new approach to their questions, their unique viewpoints and the answers they find.
To order The Belief of Isma'il leave your email message at:
America B.C., Barry Fell ©1989 POCKET BOOKS -- Perhaps the "New World" is not so new. The puzzling number of ancient inscriptions found throughout the United States, Canada, and parts of Latin America -- inscriptions written in various European and Mediterranean languages in alphabets dating from 2,500 years ago, speak not only of visits by ancient ships, but also of permanent colonies of Celts, Basques, Libyans, and even Egyptians. Unbelievable that it may seem, British and American linguists deciphering Celtic inscriptions -- Ogham writings -- have only in recent years re-joined forces aggressively sharing knowledge after centuries of bifurcated research and divergent histories dragged the two English-speaking nations apart. Fell (p 9-11)
Fell points out that as early as 1784, letters of Ogam discoveries had been exchanged between continents. But, you know after a Revolutionary War here, and a War of 1812 there... things can get a little test-y. People who have been fighting tend to take their marbles and go home. Gratefully, recent scholars haven't lost their marbles and are sharing research again.
Beginning with page 36, Dr. Phillips writes: "No statement is made as to when God created the universe, apart from the fact that He did so 'in the beginning'. The earth is now estimated by some scientists to be over two billion years old, with three quarters of geological time gone before geologists find the first adequate record of life in the Cambrian rocks. Picture a man walking down an avenue into the past, covering one thousand years with each step. His first step brings him to William the Conqueror, his second to the birth of Christ, his third to Helen of Troy, his fourth to Abraham. After another 130 steps he sees Heidelberg Man. Another quarter of a mile, at a thousand years a step, brings him to the oldest stone implements in Europe (according to some geologists and anthropologists, anyway). He would go on for 250 miles before he came to the earliest fossil organism! Genesis 1 does not argue with the claim that the earth is very old. It simply states that God created it 'in the beginning'....
"Certainly the first chapter of Genesis is remarkable as a statement of fact, no matter how it is viewed. Moses did not write Genesis 1 according to theories of creation current in the schools of his day, even though he was 'learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians' (Acts 7:22). Egyptian myth postulated a primeval ocean upon which appeared an egg. From the egg was born the sun god, and the sun god had four children: Geb, Shu, Tefnut, and Nut. From the rivalries of those god-born children of the sun the creation took place.... Genesis 1 does not begin like that!
"Instead we have a narrative that rises like the Himalayan peaks, far above all human creation epics. The Babylonian epic is the story of plot and counterplot amongst the gods, the story of banquets and rivalry and war. The Greeks pictured a mythical giant named Atlas standing at the borders of the earth upholding the wide heavens on tireless head and arms. The Hindus thought the world rested on the backs of three elephants, which in turn stood on the back of a giant tortoise, which swam around in a cosmic sea. Genesis 1 avoids all such gross ideas and gives such a remarkable statement of fact that it is the only document coming to us from antiquity that is seriously considered when the origin of the universe is discussed."
In addition, one of many interesting over-looked details about Genesis 1... (unsatisfactorily explained though readily dismissed by sceptics) is the Genesis writer's use of the comparative when describing the creation of the "greater" and "lesser" lights. Without exception, all the earliest creation accounts ultimately recognize and venerate the Sun using the superlative -- the "greatest" light. And from man's earth bound perspective... that is absolutely accurate. It certainly is logical... and obvious to anybody who looks... at first glance.
But to those who look more closely... only the Genesis account reveals a more accurate perspective... theorized by the best minds in the middle ages... validated by astronomers in our technological era. So how could that point have been so precisely understood by Moses? Somebody... beyond man standing on top of man's shoulders and/ or head... Somebody back then... was pretty smart! And we in the 20th Century are just starting to figure it all out. Maybe some of us slow-pokes and Johnny come lately's... maybe we've finally made it... to the Beginning -- a very good place to start!
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