Sunday, May 25, 2008

Need Inspiration, John 15

I don't quite know what causes inspiration. Whatever it is, I'm lacking it. I could talk about what I'm working on in philosophy, but I can't figure out how to translate it to a blog post yet.
I'll be doing some traveling soon -- perhaps that's just what I need. For now, here's a thought from a recent meditation on John 15. . .
I've wondered how many kinds of branches there are here. It seems like we've got 3:
(1) Branches "in Jesus" that are bearing fruit
(2) Branches "in Jesus" that are not bearing fruit
(3) Branches that are not "in Jesus" (and thus not bearing fruit)

This raises questions:
(i) Can one be "in Christ" and not bearing fruit?
(ii) What does he mean by "in me?" Is this equivalent to a branch's "abiding in Christ?"
(iii) Does Jesus (or John) intend to make any distinction between those who are positionally in Christ and those who are experientially abiding in Christ?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Can You Spot a Fake Smile?

Try this survey/quiz to see how you do. I got 13/20 correct. I don't know if that's average or what. If the study is correct about the reasons why we can't always tell, I think it is very interesting. Takes about 5 min. Come back and let me know how you did!

(Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost)
Monday, May 12, 2008

The Secret of Playing Gandalf

Ever wondered what Ian McKellen's secret was in playing such a brillian Gandalf?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Almost There . . .

The semester will be over in a week. Grades will be in, papers will be complete. Then I hope to blog a little more.

For now, here's a little zample (that's what my kids say) of what may come . . .

Goodness and the Ability to Do Otherwise

Suppose Smith pops into existence as a full-grown adult. Smith is good. Really good. So, when Smith sees the homeless man (Jones) on the street, he can't help but offer him whatever help he needs. In fact, Smith is so virtuous, it is a fact that even if Smith had considered ignoring homeless Jones, he couldn't have ignored him. It was literally impossible for him to not do the good action.

Is Smith praiseworthy for his action of helping Jones? Or, would we say that Smith is not praiseworthy since he couldn't have chosen to do otherwise? After all, we wouldn't praise a robot for doing what was dictated by its programming or an animal for acting according to instinct.

If you think he is praiseworthy, then why don't we think robots and animals are praiseworthy? (Remember that praising an animal because it did the correct action is not the same as saying it is actually praiseworthy. We may praise it simply to reinforce the behavior.)

If you think Smith is not praiseworthy, then why do we think God is praiseworthy for his good actions? After all, it is impossible for God to do otherwise.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Test Your Awareness: Do The Test

This is a legit awareness test! Try it out.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Quote of the Day

"People who eat nuts in theaters do this most when the actors are bad."

~ Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics, Book X, Chapter 5)
Thursday, May 01, 2008

What is the Imago Dei?

What is the Imago Dei? Perhaps one of my readers has done some good reading on the subject. Here are some candidates I can recall from past reading:

(1) Reason
(2) The ability to commune with God
(3) Relationality (the ability to form meaningful relationships with others)
(4) Creativity

Whatever the imago is, does it follow that the goal for a human life ought to be the realization of it? That is, if the imago is our rational capacity, should the (primary) goal of life be to maximize and exercise this capacity?

If the imago is (1), (2) or (4), then an odd consequence seems to follow. If a person were given the opportunity to study, pray or create on a desert island, with all of his physical needs met and yet in complete isolation from other humans, should he accept such an opportunity? (Also assume that his activities on the island will never benefit any other human.) The answer seems to be 'yes. ' But can a flourishing human life really be lived in isolation?

Jesus is clear that the two-fold directive of human life is to love God and love our neighbor. Can the second of these be taken to mean (A) "love your neighbors, IF you have any?" Or does it mean, (B) "seek out other human beings to love." If it could be construed as (A), then the desert island existence is a viable alternative for the Christian. However, if (B) is the meaning, then voluntary isolation is disobedience, assuming that what you do on the island will never benefit anyone else.

But if the imago is (3), then clearly we cannot flourish as human beings and actualize our design in isolation. Is this grounds for thinking that (3) is the correct conception of the imago?