We Want Resolution

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A new year often means New Year Resolutions so I thought I'd take a few moments to ponder this tradition and see what the word really means. Perhaps a short study of resolutions will help us realize why our yearly focus on new things often falls short.

Merriam Webster gives a number of different meanings to the word, I'll be responding to each definition with an appropriate address.

1: the act or process of resolving: as a: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b: the act of answering : solving. c: the act of determining d: the passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or the progression of a chord from dissonance to consonance e: the separating of a chemical compound or mixture into its constituents f (1): the division of a prosodic element into its component parts (2): the substitution in Greek or Latin prosody of two short syllables for a long syllable g: the analysis of a vector into two or more vectors of which it is the sum

This first definition is a rather long string of words that basically states that resolution means that things work out. For a lot of us, 2008 has been a year that needs solving. There's something off about a year where the economy has gone down the crapper, a little less than half the country voted for the Other Guy, and unemployment is reaching the highest levels we've seen in decades. There is a need for a solution. We've been living in a dissonant chord progression that's left us suspended and we want a New Year, a clean slate, a fresh beginning.

You've heard talk of revolution,
But we want resolution.

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Don't Become the Dragon

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"Be careful, lest in fighting the dragon you become the dragon." - Friedrich Nietzsche

The year, having been an election season, was a rather difficult time for those who have religious beliefs. Christians, especially, have always had a difficult time figuring out exactly what sort of balance to strike between isolating their religion from the public square or integrating it into politics.

Sometimes, like Charles Simeon and William Wilberforce, stepping into government roles with religious conviction has meant putting an end to evil and oppression. Simeon worked hard to put an end to the debtor's prisons and Wilberforce almost singularly shut down slave trade in England. In countless other instances, men and women around our planet have seen evil through the lens of their religious convictions and used their lives to petition their governments, engage in civil disobedience, and ultimately bring an end to tyranny and the mistreatment of other human beings. And when this happens, all the world cheers.

But integrating our beliefs into our politics does not always have such wonderful results. [...]

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A Christmas Eve Story (or would someone shut that kid's mouth?)

On Christmas Eve, would you believe that:

@ 4:30pm: We were in my in-laws church, singing Christmas Carols and trying to keep Ethan from eating a wax candle that would be lit during the last song.

@ 4:38pm: My wife's brother and sister-in-law entered with their one year old baby girl, Paige. Ethan decided that he'd like to hang out with her.

@ 4:42pm: Some guy on the stage started telling a story and Ethan decided that he'd make all sorts of noise to let us know HOW MUCH he really wanted to hang out with his cousin. [...]

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Have a Happy, Happy Christmas

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope this is a happy day for you. It's been a wonderful for me, thus far, and I just wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas, too!

If you haven't read Christopher Cocca's post "Is This The Month? Is This The Happy Morn" yet, do yourself a Christmas Favor and read it right now. I'll forgo writing anything else for now so that you have the time to check it out.

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Bloody, Yet Peaceful Advent to All

Tomorrow marks the advent of Christ's Mass, a yearly ritual in which Christians celebrate the birth of the God-man on whom they have placed the hope of salvation from our human condition.

A lot of people really enjoy this Holiday a lot more than Easter because unlike the crucifixion, the lowly manger scene with the angels and the shepherds and the three wise men represents opportunity and anticipation rather than the stench of death. It's a lot easier to celebrate Baby Jesus, the infant, than it is to celebrate the carnage of the nail-pierced, flogged, bloodied Jesus with a crown of thorns piercing His brow and chunks of meat hanging from his back. [...]

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Bio-Rhythm & Spirituality

Something I've been really grappling with over the past few years is that as post-industrialists, we share a worldview unlike any that humans on our planet have held throughout history. Unlike the hunter, farmer, gatherers that make up the majority of our planet's time-line, our worldview is dominated by the scientific method and a mechanistic/industrial approach to life. We know the science behind the weather. We have the ability to plant and grow at anytime of year due to modern heating and greenhouse technology. We understand personality theory so we can understand people and we've got a systematic theology to our religion that explains away the nuance and mystery of problematic beliefs such as Trinity, Virgin Birth, and Angels.

Thus, whether we like it or not, our interactions with each other, with our work, and with our spirituality have in some ways been reduced to a modern, mechanical thing- ordered, sound, and much less messy than the craziness of centuries before. [...]

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Living Well In Desperate Times

The newspaper is filled with dreadful stories about the economy. The Today Show is showing segments on how "regifting" is OK in the current state of the nation. Families are frightened that they won't be able to make enough money to cover their budgets. And those who are currently employed aren't sure that their jobs will be around next month.

In some ways, however, we've actually been able to live better lives because of all the craziness that's happening in the business sector. OK, making a subjective claim like "better" is rather difficult to do when things are so tough out there, so I'll give you four examples of what I mean when I say that we can still live well in desperate times. [...]

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Reflection: 3 Years of Marriage

Today is the third anniversary of my marriage to Beth Nicole Kennard. Since that rainy Saturday afternoon when we said "I Do" we've been through a lot of different celebrations, arguments, friendships, adventures, beliefs, and living situations. Today, I want to honor her by focusing on that memory for a moment instead of my typical philosophy, politics, and religion (although marriage is one of those things that definitely covers all three aspects of thought).

Beth, I love you so much and I'm so glad that you've stuck it out with me for the past three years. You're a wonderful wife and an amazing mother. I'm am so honored to call you my bride.

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Eat This Book

Recently, I've been subscribing to an RSS feed of the bible that provides a few big chunks of scripture from different places in the Old and New Testaments each day. It's one of those read through the bible in a year plans, but I've been using this one in particular because it's not a "read straight through" method.

Here's the reason- when we're dealing with a book like the Bible (which is actually a number of books, poems, stories, genealogies, historical accounts, and letters encapsulated into one binding) it's important to take context seriously. Every word must be read in the context of the sentence, every sentence in context of the paragraph, ever paragraph in context with its chapter, and so on and so forth. But rarely do we read a passage in the context of the entirety of rest of scripture. We usually limit ourselves to the context of the particular setting in which its found.

For the ancients, this wouldn't have happened. Most boys (sorry girls, this was before women's suffrage) grew up in Synagogues and memorized the entire Torah. And if they were really good at it, they'd go on to memorize the rest of the scripture as well. Until the proliferation of paper and mass production of books, anyone serious about their faith would have done the same. It was the only way for them to have ready access to the scriptures in the same way we do today. [...]

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