Why is God Relevant?: A Primer

God’s identity refers to the character of God, His personhood, and His various characteristics. God is tri-personal, meaning that He is three persons in one being, or three ‘whos’ and one ‘what’. But one might ask, why should I care what type of being God is. That is a great question, and here is a preliminary answer.

First, since we are Image-Bearer’s of God, God’s identity is relevant for our own identities as we are His reflective creations. Just as a 2-dimensional mirror-image is like the 3-dimensional object that reflects in the mirror, so we are like God in some relevant ways. We are less than God, certainly…but there is something about us that is only answered by looking at God. What are these similarities precisely? This is a question for another time. But there is much to discuss before we get to this question. For now, this is a good account of the reflective relationship between man and his God:

We are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us” CS Lewis

So, understanding God’s relationship to you sheds light onto who you are, your purpose, and why you struggle after apparently impossible things, like justice, peace, immortality, and unconditional love. We are meant to be more than this world. The relationship we have with God determines many aspects of our life, our virtue, our wisdom, and our vocation(s). Who God is, this determines who you are because you are made in the Image of God. Just as the light of the moon gets its light from the sun, the sun is relevant to the moon’s light, since it is derived from the sun.

Next, God’s identity informs the context of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Knowing God’s identity, and understanding God’s relationship to you provides the back-story for the reason why we need a savior, and why we have a savior. That is to say, part of God’s identity, that He has revealed to us, is that He loves us and wants us to be perfect: this explains why He set-up perfect standards and why He would suffer and die on the cross to raise us to perfection. We needed a savior because God’s standards could not be met by us. We have a savior because God is love, and would incarnate Himself in Jesus Christ so that we may be perfected through Christ’s sacrifice.

So, who God is determines our understanding of our own identities and His relationship to you and me objectively, as God’s nature precedes our nature because our nature is a reflection of God’s nature.

Popular Nonsense

First falsehood: God is an anthropomorphism, such that, He is a psychological manifestation stemming from a deep-seated desire for a father figure (a la Freud, and Nietzche). However, the God of the Bible doesn’t conform to human behavior. God doesn’t solve the superficial problems that we want to be solved. The Christian God is not anthropomorphic.

Second Falsehood: God is bound by human morality and is subject to our anthropomorphic idea about Him (a false belief about His nature).

Human righteousness is a function of our nature as Image-bearers of God, which means that we have a specific nature and purpose. We are limited creatures within a larger plan. We struggle and live life within this larger plan. Our decisions are morally evaluable according to our design and our limitations of knowledge. However, God does not have a design to live up to as we do. Nor does He work in ignorance about making decisions that may or may not fall in line with the greater plan. Therefore, His commands and decisions in this world are not susceptible to our terribly oblique, imperfect, and woefully unequipped judgments. To judge God as if He were a person like a human being–just and only like us– is to commit yourself to a gratuitous anthropomorphism.

What are the basic characteristics of being a man?

Why is it important to know what a real man is? Well, it is important for everyone because we are all shaping people to some kind of ideal. This is true whether we know it or not. That is, everyone encourages and discourages each other, by our statements, omissions, praises, etcl

Why is it important to know what a real man is? Well, it is important for everyone because we are all shaping people to some kind of ideal. This is true whether we know it or not. That is, everyone encourages and discourages each other, by our statements, omissions, praises, etc. What we praise, we encourage. What we denounce, we discourage. Whatever ideal that we have in our mind, leaks out in our actions, and into society.

Consider this. Imagine that you are a father or mother, and ask yourself, what things do I need to instill in my child by the time of accountability? This is an old term, but basically, it amounts what does it mean to pass from ‘being a child and boy’ to ‘being a man’?

This is important because parents need to know the whole so that they can order the parts. They need to know where they are going, in order to plot their course. So, what are the basic, and most important, characteristics of becoming a man, and being a man?

This relates to cultural responsibility. These are deep issues, but I think a lot can be said by simply pointing to what is passed down, encouraged, discouraged, and glorified. We pass down what we think is the best, not just material things, but values, songs, favorite activities, etc.

In that ballpark, then, what are we responsible for exemplifying, encouraging, and expecting of children?

Now, it seems that a fact of human life is related to the KISS principles (Keep It Simple Stupid). KISS is not just a good idea because it works (though it generally does), it is a  principle because–we humans– we really are stupid sometimes. If you don’t keep something simple, you completely forget the point of what you’re doing in the first place.

So, about ‘being a man’, what is something that we can point to that is simple and true, that shows what a man ought to be? That is, what is something that we can point to that we aim to get our young boys towards, by the time their bodies are developed, and become men? (because you can be physically grown without maturity in other respects).

To my mind, the simplest thing that we can point to is the joint role of father and husband. Being a man is the ability, and willingness, to understand the great responsibility of being a husband and a father. This doesn’t mean that you only become a man if you’re married and have children. This isn’t the point. The point is, that the great responsibilities for being reliable, honest, committed, gentle, fierce, loving, and prepared, that is what shows that you are a man (readiness to be what is needed). The converse would also be true. If you can’t have a committed relationship, have what it takes to build a life for yourself and others, then you are not yet a man, regardless of your age.

More could be said about this, but I fear that far too little is already said about this. If we point to mere children as men (take your pick about any celebrity that isn’t the fatherly-husband type i.e. still a boy), then we should not be surprised that our children often struggle to find out where they fit, and whether or not they are successes. I am, of course, suggesting that an honest man that builds a life and family is the true success, and beyond this, we go into more complex matters about wisdom, philosophy, the best life, what God wants for us to do, etc (which we should address). For now, though, raise your glass to the men (real men) that do it right, that walk the line. And lovingly suggest to those that don’t understand these things, that perhaps, just perhaps, they missed a few important lessons of life, about what about being a man means. (oh, and by the way, being a husband and father is really difficult…that’s why we need to cultivate it in our young because preparation helps us all succeed).

So, what does being a man mean? A simplified version is this: Being a man is knowing how to, and being prepared to be, committed, reliable, honest, and constructive so that they could be a husband and father. Don’t let the simplicity of the statement deceive you though. It often isn’t (simple), that’s why only real men can do it.

This short article is only a prelimary treatment of the topic of being a man.

Here are some interesting books on the subjects of being a man, and parenting:

The Poetry of Wine (a reflection)

I have recently been trying to make wine, with some success (baby steps). I’m definitely a neophyte (newbie), but I think it is interesting about why doing things from ‘beginning to end’ is so rewarding. For instance, why is growing your own tomatoes, or making your own bread so rewarding? I think that it is more than simply that fresh bread has an amazing taste (which it certainly does). There is a kind of magic that comes with making something yourself. Consider the process of making wine, cultivating a garden, writing a book, or building something with one’s own hands. There are staggering implications to this, in that there is a kind of poetry in rational activity. Indeed, ‘poetry’ comes from the Greek word poein, poiein ‘to make, create, compose.’

Consider the beauty and wonder in the process of making wine. It was Jesus’ first miracle, and it is something we can in a very real way to participate with nature. Is it directly ‘willing the grape into a fermented product’? No. But the process itself is a collaborative wonder between beings that grasp reality with their minds (us), and things in the world that grow, live, and are nourished in an interesting tapestry of interconnected parts. And this is only possible if there is a kind of fabric to reality, and that we are the kind of being that can grasp this fabric. Moreover, we can make and enjoy wine because of it (from the beginning of the process to the end).

How does this connect to wine? It may not connect directly to the grapes and the fermentation, and its specifics steps, but it certainly connects to what we think is in the activities of life itself. For instance, what if someone told you that life itself was a kind of magic? That behind the changing, impermanent, and frail world, there is an unchanging, transcendent, and invincible aspect of reality? Sound interesting? I think so, but I think these things because this seems to fit how reality actually is. It is interesting and magical…because it is true. Further, the fact that we can grasp the world with our minds, and then change the world with our will, is astonishing.

Not only is there beauty, and goodness in the world, but we actually can modify, adapt, and grow with the world. We can participate in the goodness of the world. With work, we can mix our minds and labor with the world. We can grow gardens. We can transform grapes into wine. We can recognize the fabric of reality with symbols like words and song and art. I can not only make wine from the cultivated life of grapes, but I can use it toast with my family to God, for not only making a tapestry of reality and life but also placing us within this tapestry.

I want to say that the fact that there is truth, beauty, and goodness in the world, and that this fact can be grasped by the mind, used through intelligent work, and our very souls can be on the side of goodness, gentleness, and justice, and these are aspects of living life (a good life, that is). That is, these are aspects of acting rationally, and believing things about the world in which we live, we actually participate in the real fabric of reality. Reality itself is a wonder, and though evil can rule the hearts of men, that horror may appear, and injustice may, for a time, appear inescapable, nevertheless, meaningfulness is basic to the very fabric of human life, and we can choose to love justice and mercy, and walk humbly with our God. That is, the starting point, the default position, of human life, is meaning. Adults, properly cultivated, grasp more of the wonder of life, not less. This should tell us something about how we parent and develop ourselves (if we lose the sense of wonder, something is amiss!) 

If this is not poetry, then it is hard to see what is. This small reflection is part of a larger project of mine, which is to bring together the otherwise disparate strands of human life together, in an exciting, and enriching philosophy. As a philosopher, I think of myself as not only as an academic that studies, but also as a kind of bard, that preserves and cultivates the goodness of all that life has to offer.

So, here’s to wine, which is a great symbol of joy (as was mead and beer in times past), and to the wonders of man’s ability to partake in the growing and cultivation of great things, through our intellect, hard work, and patience. Not only can we enjoy good things, but we can cultivate and understand a portion of the good things in life.

So, go create something, and know that the very fact that you can do so is a kind of poetry and magic. If you know there is magic in the activity, and have gratitude in your heart, then what could be more poetic? Have a glass of wine, and give thanks. We live in a tapestry of poetry.

Cheers – Sláinte – Prost

Here is a book to consider:

The Booklovers’ Guide To Wine: A Celebration of the History, the Mysteries and the Literary Pleasures of Drinking Wine

Here is some poetry of wine too:

A Drinking Song by William Butler Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

Heroic Poem In Praise Of Wine – by Hilaire Belloc (first seven lines)

To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,

To welcome home mankind’s mysterious friend

Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;

Wine, privilege of the completely free;

Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;

Wine, a bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,

Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!

Philosophers and Free Markets: The Market Facing Philosopher

Have you ever thought about how a philosopher might fit inside markets, outside of academia?

I think philosophy should be a kind of service to people, and this is why I’m talking about free markets. I know this might seem like an odd position to have for an academic, as many academics like to say not-so-flattering things about the Free-market. In terms of numbers derived from polling data,  for instance, most academics don’t like the free markets (except for good economists). But this is a mistake, and strange for many reasons. Free markets are about goods and services, where a person thrives if and only if a person or group of persons helps other people thrive, providing them with something that enriches their lives (otherwise, why would they willingly part with their time and money?). Additionally, free markets are about rational persuasion and voluntary transactions (if I can’t convince you that my information, services, or products are worth your time and money, then I don’t get your support). I think that philosophy is a great benefit to humanity, to those that get acquainted by it, and that good philosophy definitely enriches their lives. For this reason, that good philosophy really does enrich everybody’s life, I want to be a Free-market philosopher.

That is, if I’m ‘market-facing,’ as economists call it, then if I provide a good product (my philosophy), then success will be reflected by my support from voluntary transactions from responsible adults that value what I’m providing. In this case, I desire to occupy a space between the Ivory Tower academics and the working person in the real world. The market space for philosophers, I think, is not typically operating in this sphere (I’m guessing that this niche is not exactly saturated). Contrast this to coerced transactions, where a body of persons, assign the worth of somebody’s goods or services, and those goods or services don’t have responsive feedback from the market.

Think about the cost of an x-ray or the way a professor is hired. The costs and processes ‘behind the scenes’ aren’t in the open, and usually, the only way things get checked by the public (market place) is if something goes terribly wrong (x-ray machine explodes, or professor gets involved in a scandal). However, free-market mechanisms directly connect to the products being provided, and their prices. Good products have positive feedback, signaling to everyone in the market that there is money to be made there. Bad products don’t last, or their prices get reduced. Artificially coerced prices (government set prices) can get away with crappy products because there is no market feedback. Only artificially-coerced products and services can remain crappy, and still be sold at a high price (hence the problems with artificially fixing prices, and the dangers of mucking with the free-market; interested in this, see recommendation below). Free-markets tend to lower costs and increase efficiency because high prices indicate that money can be made wherever the prices are high. So, free-markets tell producers where and what to produce, and the whole of the market pushes enterprising people to increase efficiency where the profits can be found (where prices are high).

I will provide some articles on the free market later, but for my present purposes, I think that good philosophy is a great benefit to all, and that it can be defended and promoted in the free market. And this is basically what my philosophy is about. I’ll provide a bunch of philosophical articles tailored to my audience (i.e. human beings), who are interested in the clarification, simplification, and unity, to their own lives. If you like what you see, you can share my links and comment (you won’t have to buy a $100 book, because the academic superpowers decided that you should add that to your mountain of debt). Interested in the types of philosophy that I’m working in? Check out this article here: Philosophy for All, Between the Ivory Tower and the Working Man 

Interested in Free Market Discussion?:

Tom Woods: Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse

Or, for free stuff: check out Tom Wood’s podcast:  https://tomwoods.com/

Philosophy for All, Between the Ivory Tower and the Working Man

What if there were philosophers that were between the Ivory Towers, and the many people in the workplace that actually make the world go around? This is what this site is about. Consider the differences between what I’ll call Lay philosophy in contrast to Professional philosophy. Professional philosophers operate at a very high level, in the sense that the works that they consume, produce, and engage in, require many years of investment before the works can be understood (many terms need to be understood, and the context of the discussions are vast). Contrast this with what I’d call Lay philosophy, which is basically what one might encounter in a good introductory survey course in philosophy. I say ‘good’ because a good intro course is built in a way to be challenging but still accessible, and a bad course doesn’t actually provide a helpful introduction to philosophy that really helps the student.

If I could rename ‘lay philosophy’ with ‘exoteric’ and ‘professional’ with ‘esoteric’, then we’ll be getting somewhere. I think that philosophy influences people a great deal, but it does so in a very roundabout way. It is like that rudder in a great ship. If you were watching somebody in the depths of a cruise ship, it might appear that they are not doing much (working on machines, servicing them, etc), but this would be a mistake. The whole ship relies on the engineers in the ship. This is an imperfect analogy, but important. Philosophers influence other people in the university, which in turn, educate others, like those in education. So, esoteric philosophy is that hard-to-understand expert philosophy, and exoteric philosophy is for public consumption. ‘Ex’ summons to mind ‘outside,’ and ‘eso’ invokes ‘inside’ or ‘into’. In the middle, is ‘meso’ which simply means ‘middle.’ As a philosopher, I wish to be a mesoteric philosopher that straddles the esoteric and the exoteric, between the high-level abstruse philosophy and the lower-level introductions to philosophy.

In many ways, I think that the exoteric and mesoteric philosophical levels are more important for society. Consider the political divisions, the crises of education, and so many other issues. Much of these things would be far different if the majority of the populace had access to what I would call good philosophy, that simplifies, unifies, and clarifies, our growing body of human knowledge. That is, in my estimation, philosophers should provide a way to understand how all of the bodies fit together (unifying), while carefully showing how each province of knowledge is different from another (clarifying differences), and simplifies hard-won wisdom into accessible statements that help a people live meaningful, resilient, rewarding lives.

So, welcome the CommonPhilosopher.com. I will be improving the site, adding meaningful content, and expanding the media. If you want to support me, you can do so by getting to Amazon through my ‘Patron support’ Amazon swoop. You don’t pay more, but I do get a small portion of your purchase for promoting them. If you like what I write about, then check out my recommendations for books. If want me to address something that you’ve wondered about, add a comment or email me. If you think I’m completely wrong, excellent, but let’s refrain from ad hominem attacks, and then please explain which premises are false, or which inference was wrong (see this article for logic primer).

Have a great day!

If you interested in philosophy, as described, here are some great intro books from Mortimer Adler:

Six Great Ideas, and

Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy

Intro to Logic for Commenting on Social Media (aka, how not to be an idiot, when reading, thinking, and posting on social media)

Admit it, you’ve wondered why some people can’t help from saying stupid things. However, have you thought about what the ‘right way’ to read, think, and respond is, to another person’s argument? I’m going to give a run-down about how to start thinking about this.

Intro to Logic for Commenting on Social Media (aka, how not to be an idiot, when reading, thinking, and posting on social media)

Admit it, you’ve wondered why some people can’t help from saying stupid things. However, have you thought about what the ‘right way’ to read, think, and respond is, to another person’s argument? I’m going to give a run-down about how to start thinking about this.

First, seriously note that your feelings might be quite irrelevant. Your feelings might be very informative, but the reality is that humans do not do their best thinking when ruled by their unreflective reactions. Things are not entirely solved, however, by simply being calm and collected.

For instance, one can spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about something, and still come to the wrong conclusion (thinking carefully is good, but calm and careful thinking merely helps, it does not guarantee well-reasoned thought). Think about every horrible book that was written with a lot of forethought.

Second, remember your fallacies. Fallacious reasoning is reasoning that appears strong and good, but in reality, instead of actually giving valid reasoning, it appeals to something else, like emotion, prejudices, etc. Bracket in your mind the difference between valid reasoning from fallacious reasoning. I will put some resources on my website, but until then, there are a ton of helpful websites out there to clarify the differences. In short, though, don’t commit fallacies yourself.

Third, seek to understand the statement of the post from a charitable perspective. For instance, in political discussion, some people fail to notice that there is often agreement on the ends (goals) of a given policy, but only a disagreement of the means towards those shared goals. For instance, someone on the right might argue for less gun control, and someone on the left might argue for more gun control. Both, presumably, want safer neighborhoods, social health, prosperity for their nation, etc. In this instance, granting charity, then, both sides want to protect children, the only disagreement is the means. Likewise, two people might agree that healthcare is very important, and want all people to have great healthcare.

A free-market person would argue that free markets produce better results, and since healthcare is very important, therefore, free-markets should drive healthcare. On the other hand, someone for State-intervention (for every problem, because without the government, we couldn’t even tie our own shoes) might say that healthcare is very important, so the government should be tasked with it.

The free-market person and the Statist are both interested in getting the best healthcare system, and it would be wrong to mischaracterize one’s opponent, by assuming that they want something different from what they actually want (since they both want great healthcare for the country).

Fourth, know what your job is, as a critical reasoner. You didn’t know you had a job? Well, studying logic tells us that we actually have two major tasks to perform when we check an argument (thanks Aristotle, you rock). The first job is to check if the premises properly connect to each other. That is, check whether the form of the argument is right: one premise properly connects to another, and the conclusion follows from the premises.

This can get a little technical, but the gist is something like this: make sure there are no formal fallacies, and that the form of the argument is right. The second job is checking that the premises in the argument are true. If we checked that the form right, and it passes, then if the premises are true, then the conclusion must follow (logic is pretty cool, I know). Given these two jobs, checking for validity and for truth, we now know that if there is something wrong with the argument it is of two kinds: either one or more of the premises is false, or the reasoning is flawed (or some combination).

Fifth, if you are going to respond against the argument you need to show which premise is wrong and why, and if the reasoning is fallacious, note the fallacy (there are lists of fallacies, but once you familiarize yourself with them, you’ll get the hang of seeing how bad argument work, or rather, don’t work).

Sixth, you might be wondering if all of these steps are necessary, and think, ‘why can’t I just say whatever I feel like?’ Well, one reason you might not want to do that is that you want to think of yourself as a reasonable adult, rather than an unreasoning animal. Another reason is that there are already a surplus of stupid arguments, bad information, and irrationality in the world, and we simply don’t need anymore.

Seventh, when you don’t do the suggested steps, and haven’t done the proper research to talk about something intelligent say this phrase, which is the sure mark of being educated person…are you ready for it? Here it goes: “I don’t know”. I’d practice it in the mirror a few times if you are unfamiliar with the phrase.  

Wise people know that they don’t know things (the wiser, the more they know of their ignorance). Honest people admit that they haven’t done all of the research, and don’t try to pretend to know more than they do. In short, don’t be a foolish and dishonest college-student stereotype, pretending to look and sound smart, with uncritical regurgitation of half-baked –but emotionally-charged- nonsense. Rather, say things like, ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I’ll have to look into that’, ‘I’m not sure’, and ‘I’ll have to think about this, thanks.’

I hope this introduction to logic is helpful, short though it is.

Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics?

Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics? Michael Huemer, from CU-Boulder has a Ted-Talk, article, and a book that deals with these topics. The question addressed in the paper, is whether persistent disagreement is explained by something like (i) ‘lack of information’, (ii) ‘miscalculation’, (iii) ‘divergent values’, or is it a kind … Continue reading “Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics?”

Why is Everyone So Irrational When it Comes to Politics?

Michael Huemer, from CU-Boulder has a Ted-Talk, article, and a book that deals with these topics. The question addressed in the paper, is whether persistent disagreement is explained by something like (i) ‘lack of information’, (ii) ‘miscalculation’, (iii) ‘divergent values’, or is it a kind of (iv) ‘irrationality’?

Here is the paper (not too long): http://www.owl232.net/papers/irrationality.htm

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYL5VUe5NQ

His article argues that it is irrationality, not lack of evidence, divergence of values, or even a lack of information, that explains our many divisive disagreements. I think his arguments are persuasive, which pushes us (people in general) to consider how we can be more rational.

His book on Political Authority is worth a read too, if you are interested in how the State is different from individuals like ourselves, if it is different from us.

Why Study Philosophy at All?

What is philosophy and why should we study it? Provisionally, let’s say that, at its best, philosophy is the devoted study about the truth of things in life—for example, whether life is purposeful, whether we ought to act one way or another, and what options we have.

What is philosophy and why should we study it? Provisionally, let’s say that, at its best, philosophy is the devoted study about the truth of things in life—for example, whether life is purposeful, whether we ought to act one way or another, and what options we have. We should study philosophy for four reasons: (1) we are already implicitly engaged in philosophy; (2) our philosophical convictions guide our decisions; (3) Scripture commands us to become wise and to avoid foolishness. Lastly, (4) the main reasons to avoid philosophy turn out to be weak arguments. Let’s consider each point in turn.

First, we should study philosophy because we are already implicitly engaged in philosophy and we simply can’t get away from it. Just by living, making decisions, and pursuing goals in life, this necessarily aligns a person with certain philosophical beliefs. This may seem surprising, but a few moments of thought show this to be true. Everyone has philosophical convictions—that is, everyone has provisional answers, whether these answers are expressly stated or implicit, to philosophical questions. These questions may be broad, such as:

·        Does life have meaning?

·        Are there right and wrong actions?

·        Is philosophy important?

·        Is all of reality random?

· Is there an order beneath the fabric of our experiences and our lives?

·        Is there a God?

These questions are perfectly philosophical, and, in many cases, people have expressly answered these questions one way or another. For example, a recent poll asked, “Do you believe in God?” Only 1% had “no opinion.” The other 99% answered either “yes” or “no,” expressly endorsing one philosophical conviction or another. The popularity of any specific belief itself, however, proves nothing about what should be believed, but it does indicate something of what people do, in fact, believe.

All people have philosophical convictions of some sort. No single person could avoid having any philosophical convictions. Consider some traditional questions of philosophy: 1. What is reality? 2. How do know things about reality? 3. What is good for human beings? 4. What is worth pursuing in life? 5. What is the purpose of government? 6. What is life all about?

Whether a person provides any answers to any of these questions at all or even replies that any of these questions are irrelevant, demonstrates that they have philosophical convictions. Both answering and not answering this these questions shows that a person has philosophical convictions.

Most people stumble into philosophical convictions, inherit them, or simply inhale them along with the air they breathe. Because philosophical convictions are so easy to acquire, you would have to make a conscious effort to avoid affirming any philosophical propositions. But, to make this conscious effort, you would have to believe that it is good to refrain from endorsing any philosophical convictions (or to suspend belief when it comes to philosophical assertions). This belief, however, falls neatly into an enduring philosophical tradition: skepticism. This belief is a philosophical conviction, and, therefore, philosophical convictions are unavoidable and we should take care to adopt the right convictions. We are ships in an ocean, going somewhere, even if anchored. The anchored ship goes where it is anchored. Even this is a place. Stagnation is a state, just as growth and decay is a state.

Second, we should study philosophy because philosophical convictions guide our decisions. Our philosophical convictions include beliefs about why life is meaningful, how we ought to act, and about what our options are. These convictions are the reasons for our choices and decisions. In turn, our decisions connect to consequences that we care about. We should, therefore, take an interest in the philosophical convictions that shape these consequences.

Third, we should study philosophy because Scripture tells us that folly is a sin (Mark 7:22), and Scripture also commands us to seek wisdom. “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7). Consider the import of ‘though it cost all you have’. Similarly, James states: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5–6) “But,” James cautions us: “let him ask in faith.” (James 1:5–6) These commands (and similar commands) are often skipped over and minimized by those advocating a ‘simple faith.’ As will be shown, sound faith and a sound philosophy are interconnected, and therefore, a sound philosophy should be sought, just as much as the grounds for our beliefs, which in part, is the meaning of faith.

Fourth, indirectly, one might observe that reasons that are commonly harbored to justify or to ignore, the importance of philosophy are quite false. This will grow more evident as these articles progress, but for now, it can be directly stated that the popular notion of philosophy is misconceived. From these misconceptions, people tend to adopt attitudes against philosophy. That is, some convince themselves that philosophy itself must necessarily be unchristian, but this is just false.

These anti-philosophical arguments are certainly due to misunderstandings of what philosophy is about, both historically, and in practice. They might think, for instance, that philosophy is nothing but useless mental gymnastics, or ancient science that is now obsolete. Relying on these misconceptions, busy modern people might think philosophy is, at best, interesting in a vague and remote sense, and so they will not study philosophy. Against these misconceptions, I urge that, at its best, philosophy studies the best basis of our decisions, so that they lead us to both truth and goodness.

As we examine a proper understanding of what philosophy’s proper purpose and scope, and what philosophers look like when they are doing their work well, we can then deepen and refine our ideas about philosophy. We will see how our convictions and decisions tightly connect to our philosophical ideas, and how a proper conception of philosophy ties together theological wisdom with common-sense, and provides all people with a common basis for having productive conversations about our shared human experiences.

 

Saint Patrick (Maewyn Succat)

Here’s to the legacy of Maewyn Succat (now called Saint Patrick). He was an English-Roman teenager when he was captured by Irish slavers, and became a slave for about six years (geographically English, national citizenship by Rome). He had a vision that directed him to get to a ship to leave, and there was a ship. He then returned home. After he returned to England, became active in the church, and then received a dream to return to Ireland, and he did. Saint Patrick sought to save the Irish people, and share the gospel with those that enslaved him.

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Maewyn Succat, or Saint Patrick

Here’s to the legacy of Maewyn Succat (now called Saint Patrick). He was a Welsh-Roman teenager when he was captured by Irish slavers, and became a slave for about six years (geographically English, national citizenship by Rome). Then he had a vision that directed him to get to a ship to leave, and there was a ship. After years enslaved, he then returned home. Patrick then returned to England, and then became active in the church, and then received a dream to return to Ireland, and he did. Saint Patrick sought to save the Irish people, and share the gospel with those that enslaved him.

There are many reasons why this is an awesome story. First, it is an example of change and transcendence. Maewyn was of Anglo-Roman noble-stock and was enslaved. Was he marked in history by complaining about the injustices against him, or was he defined by loving those that persecuted him?  (the latter). Second, Maewyn was not even ‘Irish’ in the superficial sense, but was ‘Irish,’ in the sense that he loved the people of Ireland, which made him truly Irish. Love explains what and who you are. That is something substantial. What is not substantial, are things like color and language. Acts define you, not some group identity. Languages can be learned. Love transcends what separates you from another. That is to say, a superficial, and nigh irrelevant group-identity of mere color or class, pales in contrast to a substantial identity of one’s Faith, practice, purpose, and deeds, over the course of a lifetime of struggle and service. So, perhaps group identity matters, but one’s silly group-identity that is comprised of color or class, is so silly that it required a brief comment, about why St. Patrick was Irish, and this did not refer to his origin, bloodline, or class. Rather, Patrick is a heroic saint because his service to the Gospel and to the Irish people.

His prayers are pretty awesome too.

Here is what he is most famous for, called by various names: ‘St. Patrick’s Breastplate‘, or ‘The Deer’s Cry’, ‘The Lorica of Saint Patrick’ or ‘Saint Patrick’s Hymn’:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, smiths, and wizards,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.


I recommend his Confessions of St. Patrick and Letter to Coroticus by St.Patrick, Saint Patrick. It is a short work, but definitely worth having in your library, as a historical reflection and devotion. It definitely makes you grateful and inspired. May we all aspire to be ‘sterner stuff,’ like St. Patrick, who was a servant of Christ, and the original Hibernophile (lover of the Irish).

If you are interested in the overall history of Saint Patrick, then I’d recommend this biography by Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography .  For an overall account of Celtic Christianity, and its impact on Western Civilization, I’d recommend this book by Thomas Cahill How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.

Hope everyone has a great day. May Christ be before, behind you, and in you. Amen.

About:

I’m just a guy who has read a few books and have taken a few classes. I love the idea of the University, but am skeptical of most Universities. I live with my family in the Midwest of the USA, and I seek to organize my thoughts, build a legacy for myself and my family, … Continue reading “About:”

I’m just a guy who has read a few books and have taken a few classes. I love the idea of the University, but am skeptical of most Universities.

I live with my family in the Midwest of the USA, and I seek to organize my thoughts, build a legacy for myself and my family, and share my life with others.