Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Convos with Dr. Mike volume 2

> = previous letter
plain script is my section

>Our fate is intertwined with how we react to God. God is ultimately Good
>that he is faithful to his own promises. So, Covenant more than abstract
>moral theology is what it means for God to be Good by his own command. In>many ways Orthodoxy talks about God apophatically. Ultimately God is

>So being faithful makes Him good? Is it that God is consistent and sticks
>to His word?

I think what I'm getting at in short is that God is a First Principle. We reference God to discern what is Good. I would be very skeptical of the idea of Good apart from God. Being faithful to his word is part of the Goodness, Judging is part of the goodness, and the fact that his promises speak to our true natures is part of the goodness. Yet through it all God is wholly Other.

>Greek religion assumed a God who was
>so philosophical that it was almost worthlessly trapped in its own
>philosophical perfection.<

>That seems on the money for Aristotle, Plato and especially Plotinus. Of
>course, Spinoza had a similar view of God and took Him to not be a person, to not care, >etc.

Orthodox don't typically care for Spinoza, and even the Catholics told him to shut his mouth as I recall. Spinoza was essentially a deist as I recall, though I could be mistaken.

>How do we know what actions are God's? Or is all of nature and its events His work?

door #2. However, that has to be understood in a perfected sense. God created goodness, but allowed it to be fickle in order to allow free will. Still, it's all part and parcel of the great theophany of life in one form or another. God is the goodness that shines through the darkness and is not overcome by it - in any circumstance. "Sanctifying" matter to its original purpose is a big part of sacramental Christian worship used in more traditional churches. So matter is always dual - earthly and heavenly purpose. bread feeds the body, but sanctified bread feeds the soul... etc.

>The nature of Jesus is a tough question-as I recall the debate over the
>trinity resulted in a heresy or two. On the plus side, it did add a lot to the
>discussion of identity and multiple location-thus providing part of my
>dissertation material. :)

Or five. Yet, I would say that all of those heresies inaccurately represented the faith. Most of them were "new" in their time. I think that I used to have a little bit more sympathy for the heretical movements until I studied them in a bit more depth.

Glad we could help. :)

>But, I have heard highly educated people either 1) deny the communist actions (it is all >western propaganda) or assert that 2) it was necessary and the peasants got what they
>deserved. Naturally, these same people insist that the US is always trying to commit genocide >(not true-the last time was during the Indian wars).

Pathetic isn't it? And yes, the US is hardly the proponents of genocide that the hate-America-first crowd wants to project. Many very good points of the left wing of our political spectrum are lost because they won't tone down the ridiculous accusations. Most Americans basically want to do "right" and would basically agree on what that is if they saw it, at least where genocide is concerned. Much of our self-criticism is kind of funny in a certain way. For example, I found it interesting when the prison scandals broke in Iraq - here we are in a frenzy over apologizing and laying blame for the world's largest frat hazing while every day insurgents were killing tens of people by beheading. The self-hate is very odd, and Americans abroad weather way more abuse than they should. I dislike the IRaq war more than most, but I am not the American to listen to French and Germans tell me how we're murderers and colonialists - the irony seems lost on them entirely.

Americans seem to break into two camps - the unquestioningly loyal and the unquestionaningly dissentious. NEver the twain shall meet.

>You'd like Leibniz's view of justice-he has a very nice passage about the
>machinery of justice and how sin brings about its own punishment and goodness
>brings about reward-in due time.

I think the Hebrew's beat him to the punch. The Principle of LAw stated inDeuteronomy 30:1-20.

>True. Experts have quite a few competing views. Unfortunately, people
>weren't so good about recording things back then, crediting sources and using quotes. If they >were as obsessed about copyrights then as we are now, we'd know a lot more.

Historicity and the Scriptures is a Protestant problem. For me it is not an issue. The texts are holy because the people of the Covenant accepted them and used them in their lives. God speaks through them prophetically. It's part of my Edifying Story view of the Christian story and might take a while to explain. :-p

>It seems pretty reasonable. His main view is that a person shouldn't just assume that >anything that pops in their head that fires them up must be a command from God.

Ok then I take it back, he's got a point.

>Locke had a very practical, English reply-we can't be certain about most things, but it doesn't >matter. Anyone who requires perfect certainty before acting will starve. If a person has >doubts about the existence of a furnace, they can stick their head in it. The basic idea is that >we know enough to function in ways that matter in everyday life (avoiding pain and seeking >pleasant things).

He's right, but limited.

>I'm a committed rationalist-but admit that knowledge probably comes
>via many avenues.

I'm not. Ironically in schooling both HS, Collegiate, and now graduate, I believe that most would call me "rational" in the calculating sense of the word, but I'm a devotee of the D&D divide. Clerics have Wisdom and Mages have Intelligence. I think Gary Gygax was brilliant in making said distinction. :)

Rationalism, aka: Int., makes life consistent, but Wisdomgoes beyond it and makes life worth living - beyond mere survival.

>True.That use of the term "knew" got a lot of mileage back in grad school
>humor. Some funny, some lame.

However funny or lame I'm quite serious. When I ask someone if they "know"Jesus - I'm not asking about their mystical sex life (although many mysticsdo go there), but I AM asking more about a powerful personal conversion and less about whether or not Jesus makes rational sense to their mind. Cardia,ou nous. :)

Always wonderful to heard from you Doc. I enjoy your challenges, and yes I even enjoy offering my Neolithic responses.


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