Saturday, February 19, 2011

Science and Morality

"As for religion, and the preposterous idea that we need God to be good, nobody wields a sharper bayonet than Brett Harris."
-Richard Dawkins, reviewing Sam Harris' latest work, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

I take my daughter to the local library on Friday mornings for the kids' reading program.  I was early, so I decided to check out the new book section, took a gander at The Moral Landscape and checked it out for the next two weeks.  I read the reviews on the back and my inner "geek radar" started going off.  I love to read about morality and philosophy, but this book will be a stretch for me in the science department.

I've grown to appreciate science more after marrying my husband, who is a self-confessed weather and all things science junkie.  We listen to Radio Lab together while traveling to visit our parents on weekends, and there are many instances where I am bothered by the philosophical leaps that the scientists and producers make while studying science and particular moral issues (especially in this show).  I think that's why I checked out this book...I haven't been stretched beyond my own belief system in a while, and it will be way more interesting to discuss this at the dinner table rather than the various household chores I managed to neglect for the day.  I also want to understand why society has elevated science to a god-like level.  Hopefully I understand the book and can stay awake long enough to read it at the end of the day!  I hope to be able to write some posts about it, so stayed tuned.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Friend of God

"To put ourselves this on a personal footing with God could, in itself and without warrant, be nothing but presumption and illusion.  But we are taught that it is not; that it is God who gives us that footing.  For it is by the Holy Spirit that we cry "Father."   By unveiling, by confessing our sins and "making known" our requests.  We assume the high rank of persons before Him, and He, descending, becomes a Person to us."
-C.S. Lewis  from Letters to Malcom:  Chiefly on Prayer

My Mom gave me The C.S. Lewis Bible for Christmas (and she even had my name written on the front-thanks Mom!)  This Bible has quotes from the different works of C.S. Lewis, intended to help the reader reflect on God's Word.  I have been using it in my devotional times and came across this quote while reading Exodus 33-35.  I find this reflection to be especially sweet when read along with Exodus 33, in which Moses meets with God at what the Israelites called 'the tent of meeting'.  Verse 11 describes this: "..the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend."  This verse comes not long after a description of God's anger towards Israel and Moses' pleading with Him to let the Israelites live after they disobey Him.  It is so awe inspiring to me that a holy, perfect God desires to forgive and to treat humans as His friends.  It certainly encourages me to speak to Him with the confidence that He not only wants to know me, but that he has been desiring to know humans since the beginning of history.  How awesome and humbling to call the God of the Universe a friend!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Example

"One of the biggest ways that I was motivated to read my Bible was seeing this example--and my mom always encouraging me that it was a friendship, a delight, and not a task. Because of this, I had an interest to know Jesus through his word at a young age. I have journals of consistent reading and prayer from age 10 on. I cannot tell you, now as an (semi-)adult, how much of a blessing this has been. It has given me a history of love for God's word and a confidence in prayer. It has taught me the habit, and the value for God's word. So, if you are seeking to set this example, don't give up! You might not see fruit now, but Jesus has promised that we will reap (Gal 6:9)."
-Anna, Early Morning Memories, girltalk Blog

I don't know about anyone else, but having a baby has certainly caused me to reflect on my childhood, specifically growing up in a Christian household.  Every night, my Mom would tuck us into bed and read us stories from these giant blue, colorfully illustrated volumes of Bible stories that we bought from a door-to-door salesman (I wonder if she still has them!)  I think through this nightly ritual and by God's grace I grew to love God's Word.  Throughout my life, I've been pretty consistent about getting up early to pray and read the Bible.

That is...until I had my daughter.  What were my excuses? Oh, something about late night feedings, caring for her, the house and the dog all day made me tired, I stayed up too late last night watching something on Hulu when I knew I should be sleeping.  As of late, reading the girltalk blog (specifically the posts in the 5'O Clock Club series) has been convicting for me.  The series highlights the importance of rising early and spending time with God and how that positively affects your family.  I've been trying for a few weeks to rise at 5...most of the time I don't make it until 5:30 or 5:45.  I keep setting my clock back for 15 more minutes each night so I can have time to convince myself to get up!  I don't think the time matters as much as the desire to spend time with God.

The quote posted above was very encouraging to me...I was almost in tears after I read it.  I want my daughter to see me as someone who loves Jesus with all her heart.  I pray every night with her that she would know Him at an early age.  I hope that my struggling example of rising early to spend time with God sticks in her mind when she is older (and that we even get to share in those times!) and that we can share in knowing God together.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nothing is Sacred?

 "...our age is sort of special.  It's hard for people to find things that matter in their lives and that makes our age different from so many other ages in the past."
-Sean Dorrance Kelly


I watched the Colbert Report for 2/2/2011 tonight on Hulu and found this interview to be very interesting.  Stephen Colbert was talking with Sean Dorrance Kelly, the head of the philosophy department at Harvard University.  He co-wrote a book with Hubert Dreyfus called All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.  The interview focuses on how Americans don't agree on what is sacred in life anymore.  He and Stephen discuss Jesus as a "different" kind of god who "transformed the world" and also agree that sports brings a unifying sacredness into our lives.  I would really recommend watching it.  It made me think and ask myself-do people really think like this?  Is this really the state of our culture?  The idea that nothing is sacred is so foreign to me.  The author and Stephen don't really discuss how the western classics bring meaning to people's lives, but the interview was interesting nonetheless.  If you watch it, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.  I'm also thinking about reading the book :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Serving Others

"Marriage creates a situation in which our desire to be served and coddled can be replaced with a more noble desire to serving others."
-Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage

I just finished reading Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? last night.  It was one of those books that I was sad to finish.  I would put this book on a list to read every year to remind myself what marriage is all about.  Thomas' ability to combine Scripture, the historical writings of the church fathers and modern research and commentary on marriage is unequaled in all the books I've read about marriage.  Married friends or engaged friends, be warned...you may be getting this book as a gift :)

I can't tell you how many times I've needed to be reminded of the essence of the above quote.  I have to confess that during my dating relationship and even now in my marriage, I have to constantly battle the desire in me to be coddled and served.  I have a long fuse when it comes to patience and service, but when I don't take care of myself, that fuse can snap very fast (poor hubby can attest to that!)  In reading this book, I've been reminded of how God works in our lives.  God often brings people or situations into our lives to stretch us to the breaking point.  It is only then that we can truly learn and lean on Him.  The marriage relationship is fertile ground for this...you can't live with anyone, no matter how amazing they were when you were dating, and not come face to face with their flaws and selfishness.  It is at the point where we find the socks on the floor, the silence at the dinner table, the late nights at work, the long list of chores, etc. that we are called to deny ourselves and focus on our loved one.  I'm not saying we should excuse mistreatment, but we should make every effort to love our spouses sacrificially.  In turn, that moves out to loving other people radically.  I have been thinking a lot about this point and praying that God uses my marriage relationship to help me to love others better.  Thanks to Mom and my sister for giving me this awesome book!