Monday, October 20, 2008
I grew up in a very conservative denomination of Christianity where spirituality is defined morally. If one wants to please God then one must act in a predefined moral way. Of course the outcome of such thinking is legalism (as a side note, legalism is death to spiritual maturity). Legalism is a strict moral code with God as the final authority. But as I began to explore my own faith and spirituality I found that morality is not based in legalism, but rather righteousness.
Righteousness is striving to act in the right way in the right time. There are no set and hard rules, for each situation will be different requiring a different right action. Which brings us to the point of this post: How do we know how to act? How do we determine the right action in the right time? I believe it comes down to character development.
I am not sure if we are all good or bad from birth. I think much of it is learned over time. I think it comes down to finding that balance between good for the individual and good for the community. Finding that balance is no easy task. As I reflect upon writing this post, my mind keeps moving towards specific, but I am trying to keep it abstract. So how do we teach character development and moral balance without falling into the legalism of endless does/don'ts lists?
I will end this post here and wait for a few comments to help find a direction for further posts on this subject.
Friday, September 19, 2008
And so what is my deep thought on the idea of art? I think art has meaning when it is made by the artist, that meaning may or may not translate to the audience, but the audience will develop their own meaning. My art is spiritual, although I do not require the audience to view it as such. In my art, I search for something that is "more" or "other" than the physical, the mundane. I would like to think that my art holds many meanings and each time it is viewed (meditated upon) one can walk away with new insights. I like to think of painting a piece as a spiritual exercise. I like to thinking of viewing a piece as a spiritual exercise. I know that may seem like much to grasp for... but I feel the same way about nature around me. My mood and attitude which I bring to the viewing can color (emotionally) a painting more than any descriptions or captions by the artist. I would hope that my art can reach out to others in the same manner. But if it does not I am not disappointed. I think of my art as spiritual expressionism.
Perhaps this is a wandering answer to the question, but it is where I am at this point. As my art grows, as my spiritual life grows I am sure my answer will also mature and grow. That is a part of life and a part of thinking deeply: growth into the next phase of life.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
One of John Wesley's maxims was:
Earn all that you can, save all that you can, give all that you can.
Now in America today it seems that maxim should still apply. But the maxim that seems to be in operation is Earn all that you can, spend all that you can and then find a creditor to help you spend more.
Look at the Wesley maxim:
Earn all that you can.
Earning gives one potential and opportunity. Not only does it better your own life but it also benefits the life of your family. Everyone is pulled up when you increase earning. But increased earning does not mean increased spending.
Save all that you can.
Earning allows you to live a better life. But some of that earning should (must) go to savings. Things happen and if a bad thing happens and you lose your ability to earn, then you need to have a safety net. It is advised to keep a few months of savings on hand. That would give you a lead time to find new work. Plus, one needs to save for retirement, save for vacation, save for kids' education, save to buy a house... save all that you can. Then you are prepared and ahead of the game when bad things happen. Or you are prepared and not needing credit when you wish to take a vacation or return to school or buy that car. The bank doesn't take part of your hard earned money in interest and fees. Saving money has the benefit of preparing for hard times, getting more for your money when you do spend it, and provides a certain peace of mind.
Give all that you can.
When is the last time you dug deep to give all that you can? We will take the most crazy opportunities to earn all that we can; sacrifice family, friends, and health to earn the big bucks. And if we want something bad enough, then we will scrimp and save to get it. But when do we really give ALL that we can? How does giving help? Why give? Giving creates solid communities. If the giving is going to help others who truly need the help to make it through a hard time then it builds a strong community. If the giving goes to programs that builds education, training, community programs, etc. then it creates a stronger society. And that is good for you because we all benefit from a strong society. Not only does it feel good to see the fruit of giving through better educational facilities, or better parks, or families being fed, but it also is good for them and for you. There may be a time when you need a little help and if the program is not in place because no one ever gave to it, then it won't be there for you either. How deep can you dig to give all that you can?
I hope that this does not sound too preachy, but it seems that a lot of today's financial and economic problems are due to people's misperception of money and its role in life. Money serves us, we should not serve it. If you don't control your money then it will control you. Be wise with the penny and you will always have an extra dollar.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Sometimes I get to thinking about being a Dad. I mean when we are growing up you just take parents for granted. But after you have your own kids and you find yourself saying and doing things that you remember your own parents saying or doing to you... well you have to stop and think. It also makes me appreciate my parents and all the crap I put them through. Now it all makes so much more sense. I mean you really have to live it to sympathize with it. Parenting is tough.
The funny thing is you really do have to live it. You can read about it, study it, observe it, critique it, but ultimately none of that can prepare you for living it. Words of wisdom, advice about life and raising kids is all fine and dandy but until you are really knee deep into it none of that advice makes much sense. And then try to remember what some auntie or grandma said about kids and discipline and education and.... everything else they like to go on and on about. It all just goes right out the window once living the life of a parent begins.
Yes I think there needs to be some underlying philosophy of child rearing that holds relatively consistent between the parents and other care givers, etc. But really... Sometime life just runs you over and it all flies out the window. Sometimes you will just do whatever it takes to get five minutes of peace and quiet.
I love my parents and have a much better understanding of where they were coming from and who they are. I think they did a good job in spite of all my attempts to sabotage their hard work.
I hope that someday my kids look back on me with the same attitude, until then I will pick my battles, hold the line, and do the best I can each day.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Think about Nature and the natural flow to life:
- Birth/death cycle
- Migratory cycles
- Sunrise/sunset time frames
- Eating when hungry
- Subsistence living
- Hunter/gather: nomadic
Natural living is the rhythms inherent in nature expressed through intuition and instinct.
Now think about artificial living and the flow of life it creates
- 9-5 work hours (set work days) and long commutes
- Clock time
- Calender time
- Money ordered existence: consumer mentality
- Residential housing, private ownership
- Existence (self worth) defined by career or ownership
Artificial living is through constructs created to shape life with ulterior motives dictated by external pressures not internal needs.
Now I know perhaps I have lost some of you at this point. No, I don't advocate going back and living in caves as hunter/ gatherers. But I do wish that we could allow natural rhythms to have a say in how we live and commune with each other. What if I could eat when I was hungry instead of at dinner time. If I was tired can I sleep in or will my boss get mad if I am an hour late, even though the extra sleep will make me more productive? Yes, there are easy abuses in this system. I think it takes a lot of trust in fellow humanity. Can I depend upon the other person to do their job? But does that matter? Look at the stock market. That is a completely artificial system built into and on top of other artificial systems. But even it has its natural rhythms. And will it collapse if I take a few extra minutes sleep? Can a company be run upon the ideas of natural rhythms in life and in trusting others to do their jobs? Or are we all that cynical and suspicious?
I watch these squirrels run around my back yard. Right now they are mating and eating and doing squirrel stuff. But in another few months they will begin to store up for the winter. Those who store up enough survive; those who don't die. Pretty simple. Apply that to humanity. Is it even possible to live that simply? Think about it. Think about what would happen if the tree charged the squirrel a percentage for the nuts. And the dirt, a charge for storage. And then some hawk had to be paid for security. Of course the tree doesn't want more nuts; it wants fertilizer. So the squirrel has to find a way to trade nuts for fertilizer which introduces the middle man and then of course, the bank who charges interest on the exchange rate. And now the poor squirrel has to gather twice as many nuts to pay all the fees, charges and taxes (because those hawks can't be left unsupervised and the banking system needs to be regulated and so they need a government). And still it may not be enough to make it though the winter because there could be fluctuations in the exchange rate that eats up all the savings. How is a man to make it in this new crazy world? This is a drastic oversimplification. Or is it? Can we simplify society, life, community, work, etc. to reflect the instinctual natural tendencies? Can we blend the natural and the artificial to create a balanced, harmonious life, taking the good that both has to offer? Or is this a crazy Utopian dream? Maybe 2012 when force and answer or maybe not.