Tag Archives: philosophy

The WHY questions…

It’s quite possible that my parents inadvertently trained my brain to be more philosophical then it might have been ordinarily.

I remember countless times after doing something naughty or foolish, my parents would ask me a daunting question “Why, did you do that?”

I’m not sure what kind of answers they were expecting. I would wonder why they would ask that.

Those answers were far beyond what my child brain could tackle.

Inwardly I would think, “HUH? Well, that’s a good question, I guess. I probably should have asked why to myself before I did it. It seemed like a good idea at the time. How should I know why I did it? Do they know why? If so, why don’t they just tell me? Will there be some kind of quiz later, or something? If they do know why, why did they looked so puzzled? And basically pissed off. Am I supposed to figure it out for them? …..ugh. But, now that I’m thinking of it, I do wonder why.”

I would usually answer, “I don’t know.” Deep inside I would wish and hope the scrutiny would not last too long. (It probably would lead to a “spanking” a.k.a. whoop the daylights out of me.) But, I also thought, if I did know, wouldn’t truthful answers incriminate me? What could I really come up with in all honesty, “because I wanted to,”?

Mainly through the sheer number of inquiries, I developed the feeling that the answer to “why” had importance. I started on a path toward “hack philosopher”…

“Why would people wish to put meat into ball shapes?”

“Why would chewing gum before supper truly ruin supper itself?”

“Why was, ‘because I said so’ considered an acceptable reason for adults to give me, but never good at all for me to reply to them?”

When troubles or suffering would come, I would instinctively ask “why”?

Maybe learning a lot of things would give me these sought for questions. I tried that a bit. (I still love roving around libraries on a quest of discovery.) After a good deal of learning, one day it came to me:

“Almost all the really crucial questions that ask ‘why’ have quite unsatisfactory answers.”

Or, the answers get debated widely, and are rarely agreed on. Or, the “answers” have the kind of complexities that don’t make one feel better about things. At all.

All this preparatory ‘why’ work…for what? Zip. More or less.

Instead of those sorts of questions, I moved on. “What does asking why tell us about us, and why we should want to know in the first place?” That seems like a much bigger question, with the kind of answer that will make a difference.

We want things to make sense. We want purpose and something to believe in that won’t let us down. We want to count on something. Will a concrete answer provide this? It seems most concrete answers only produce more questions. Of course, I was only satiated with pat answers for a short time.  (I do believe I was also trained to understand that challenging  answers was either a lack of faith, or a flaw in character.)

It’s been a new path for me to have a certain serenity that understanding may begin when the intricacies that the why questions remain in creative tension with discovery and mystery.

And so “why mystery?”

For me, it’s about knowing things in terms of relationship, not facts. The facts can be manipulated, massaged, or up for grabs. But, true trust, based on an ongoing and lavish love, surmounts what facts never satisfy.

God is why.

Leave a comment…

“The Show About Me”…is just re-runs (part 1)

Life *seems* like a "show about you" b/c you are in every scene and every episode.

If you’re reading because of my column in Schuylkill-News, welcome! (Be sure to join up with S-N on facebook, and get hip to the latest news items and great tips and stories before they hit the newsstands. Tell Amy you enjoy her publication! She needs to know.)

Thanks for reading, and please leave your questions or comments, now or anytime.

Deconstructing the “Show about You”

By default our heads are filled with an odd and faulty knowledge/sense that Life is a Show about ourselves. Each person thinks he/she must be the center of the universe (think: reality lived out), until something, or someone interrupts this notion. Living outside this worldview takes practice, increased maturity, and concerted effort. Cultural norms and money makers do not encourage us to turn the channel from “The Show About Me”.

Sounds like a blanket statement, right? It sounds like I’m saying everyone is a dirty, rotten jerk, and that can’t possibly be true?

Okay, let me back it up and just start with a few questions:

Think about these 5 questions as you read them and answer truthfully (to yourself, or if you feel that sharing will help others, leave your results in the comment section).

1. When you wake up in the morning do you think about the upcoming events in your day, or focus on your feelings?

2. Do thoughts of your past, present, or future occupy your time in your day?

3. Do you endeavor to find pleasure and avoid pain?

4. Do you mentally weigh the personal benefit when making decisions and actions?

5. Do you long for people to think well of you, and you make decisions based on this factor?

Okay, maybe you skimmed those questions.

Maybe you don’t want to do a personal inventory. If you want to move on, and this is getting weird or uncomfortable, you’re headed for a rerun. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Before that happens, please, go back, for one more minute and read and consider the 5 questions. After you’re done,consider your results. If you answered “yes” or “sometimes” at all, you are fairly normal, and you are also living your life as the Main Star of your Show. You perceive reality as something that centers around, basically, _________. <—— (say your name here.)

So what? you say, doesn’t everyone? What’s the big deal?

Well, friends, it’s only a big deal if you want to feel unstuck….If watching the same re-runs of yourself meeting the same sorts of dead ends and disappoints, and having the same insatiable cravings, growing frustrations, and restricted and delayed growth wears on you, then yes, the deal is starting to head into a biggish area.

Seriously, re-runs are really what you get when the season’s over. No one is working anymore, and the networks hope more rehash won’t be too egregious and lame. After two or three times of the same stuff, we usually want something new, something better.

A whole other Reality is going on, and has been long before you, and will long after you. You may have been skimming on the surface of it, but you have to wake up and realize thoroughly that you are not the Star of the Show, and more importantly, it’s not your Show.

‘Ever seen the movie the Matrix? It’s like, but with fewer people wearing sunglasses. …. oh never mind, The Matrix explanation is WAY too long and slippery. You’ll think you’re Neo, and we’ll be back where I started.

There’s a bit more to come:

In a few days, Part II of this reflection will get down deeper. Soon, I’ll also offer mental, spiritual, and emotional (concrete) ways many people have truly shifted their view to a more healthy one. We’re just getting the engine started on this vehicle to a new perspective. Let’s stick together–Meet back here soon.

Always feel free to leave your thoughts, experiences, or comments here. (Just after the tags below this post, it’ll say Leave a Comment. Not to be too obvious, and insult you, but….You click that.)

Or answer some questions:

Any guesses who the Star of the Show is?

What do you think Reality looks like with this different worldview/perspective?

And how would it be lived out? (examples, generalities, etc.)

Freaked out!

The face of "Freak out"

I got this on Facebook from Susan Sims. Me thinks she pulled it from somewhere online. If anyone knows the proper source for citation, give me a shout out.

I thought this picture just perfectly captured what happens on my insides when I get suddenly horrified or surprised. Notice the weird hand gesture of fright. Classic.

In a rather unrelated note, due to my employment research, I found this, and I thought it would make a fine read, even for those not in recovery. Please note the restorative humility it takes to get well seen in these steps. It makes one wonder how many of us are all that well, right?

(I welcome your thoughts and comments!)

12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (& Biblical References) by Alcoholics Victorious

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol … that our lives had become unmanageable. “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “… my grace is sufficient for you, for my POWER is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) ..for it God Who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.. (Phil. 2:13)
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of GOD as we understood Him. “… If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23**)
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)
5. Admitted to GOD, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
6. Were entirely ready to have GOD remove all these defects of character. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” (Isaiah 1:19)
7. Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24**)
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Give and it shall be given you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38**)
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith GOD has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with GOD as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will, and the power to carry that out. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16)
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2) **The words of Christ

“1 foot in the grave and 3 feet on a banana peel”

Would this sign work for people too?

Sometimes we get awfully close to the brink. Maybe 94 steps. Could that take a day? A week? Two weeks?

What does it take to take a few steps back?

Rest? A new Perspective? A change?

In the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, the euphemism “1 foot in the grave and 3 feet on a banana peel” was used to describe a fox in a precarious spot.

What we often don’t realize is that the “brink” is just the first of many.

When have you felt “at the brink”?

What was the result…or how did it turn out?

Open House at my school!

I will be graduating this May, and I cannot say enough about the wonderful school I have been attending!

The students, staff, and professors form a beautiful community, rich in love, thoughtful in understanding, and dedicated to helping others live–not just know–the gospel, and the deep, high, long, and wide love of God. The transformation God has done in my heart, by way of this place-during my years here, is difficult to sum up. But, my life is forever changed and renewed. My character, and love for others is stronger, my understanding of my God and my purpose and meaning in this world has blossomed. And, I am far better prepared for the next adventure God has for me since I followed a call to come to ETS. What an immense joy it has been. I’ve loved it the whole time, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Perhaps you’re at a crossroads, or may you feel the tug of God to go deeper to learn, serve, grow, and love your Creator and Redeemer. This school, my school, Evangelical Theological Seminary, would be a fantastic way to move along on your journey. The upcoming Open House is a great way to find out if this path would be a one for you. April 8th you can talk to and hear from students and faculty, tour the campus, ask questions, and learn more.

Here is a bit of information, (and the day’s schedule) for the upcoming Open House, April 8th.

Leave any questions you have here, or contact the ETS office 777-866-5775.

God Bless,
Lisa

How do we decide things?

funny_road_signMany of us weigh the decisions we make against the consequences that may happen. For instance, a financially desperate person might say, “I need money, but if I rob a bank, I’ll surely get caught.” A person with a more developed sense of morality may instead reason, “I need money, but that money is not mine to take.” Either way, some kind of assessment of right and wrong takes place, or at the very least pragmatics, which is the determined usefulness, or useful outcome of a particular action (like robbing a bank.)

Pragmatics gets down into the everyday choices, and can be the default setting for our choices. It’s like a common denominator. But really it’s not very good ethics that drives those kinds of decisions. Instead it is only the perceived consequences at the wheel, steering the choice. While it may seem practical to decide something based on whether it will help or hurt, or be useful or not useful, there is a glaring flaw in this method.

What is it? Simply put, we can never truly know the actual consequences of our choices, or their ramifications which lay in the future. What may seem helpful, can hurt many, instead of help. Or, sometimes certain people are helped, while others suffer greatly. History is quite full of these sorts of examples, and we continue to repeat them.

We can abandon a foundation of pragmatics, (the consequential, illogical, ad hoc reasoning method of decision making) by choosing from an altogether better starting point. God. It sounds so simple, but I will not say it is. But, what I refer to is the ultimate ideal, outside ourself–perfection. (Think: Socrates’ model)

The reference of God “himself,” and the nature and Standard of our best choices actually resides in and with God. The best values, the best and most perfect way–that is the way of God. More than that, it is how reality is grounded. God is the ultimate reality. Yes, we won’t measure up. In about two seconds we won’t, to be honest. However, this is not the reason to head for pragmatics, and assume The Good is not possible, a worthy choice, or viable for a standard–or at least the aim, of our own choices. It is the goal of each of us to decide to not choose for ourselves, or for the consequence alone, but for what is the ultimate Good.

Weigh-in with your take, or insights. I realize this particular post is a lofty one. Yes, and idealistic!

ALSO-Please help me spread the word about this website. I would love to have more regular readers. Many thanks to those who’ve read today!

The Riddle of Low Self-Esteem

images-2I’m going to start by saying the “answer” I give to solving this riddle, is quite real, but is not easy. I don’t claim there is but one answer, but it is surprising how transforming this surprising tact can be. This situation might be like telling a person what they need to stay fit. Once they have the information, it doesn’t mean it will happen. It doesn’t mean transformation to fitness will take place. It only means, if they truly put the information into practice regularly, will they see true change and results. I also offer that just as in fitness, results do not happen in a day, a week, or a month. It is more of a lifestyle. Change and “state of fitness” happens over a period of time–like a journey. The same is true for what I share with you.

I have often heard questions like, “How can I help my self-esteem and low self-worth?” What most people fail to realize is the truly universal problem a low view of self is. People may see others as confident, and assume they don’t have many doubts, or that others aren’t really acting out of a place of a compromised view of self. I venture to guess many bad decisions we make, and possibly most destructive behaviors come from an attitude, or some form of self-loathing. Yes, it’s a real problem, and a big one.

In most primary education schools, the big push is to raise self-esteem in hopes that a better views of self will generate more socially appropriate behavior, and ethically developed character. The teaching goes something like, “Kids, remember, this in your mind when you take a test. Cheating on a test will make me feel bad about my self.”

This reveals the anthropocentrism (human development-centered) of our efforts to both fix our problem of poor self-image, and to make ethical decisions based our our view of the world from a decidedly human perspective. In both cases we are helpless–stuck making very little ground. Or, the progress made is inconsistent, and can fluctuate based on our particular selfish motives, and short-sighted view at that moment of our ethical choice.

Strangely enough, we cannot start with thinking about ourselves to reclaim our value, or raise our poor self-esteem. For that, we must thrust our focus away from the defect, to the Standard, the Creator, and work from the Source, or the Top down. It might seem counter-intuitive to not think of yourself when you are attempting to better yourself, and that not entirely what I propose. I propose that we allow God to be the source of our esteem, and the foundation of our value.

The best way I have found to help me in this area–to increase my fitness–if you will, is to thoroughly enjoy God in worship. In him we live and move and have our being. This is no small idea. This is another way to frame Reality. (I believe it is the way the Bible offers it to us.)  It starts with God, and adds us into the picture as part of God’s supporting cast, rather than us as the star of the show. In reality, life is a Story about God, and his love and enjoyment of us. And then our response to him. Often, we live out of the premise that life, as author Donald Miller has said it seems, “…like a movie about me, and I can prove it because I’m in every scene.”

One of the greatest benefits to adjusting (or I should say re-adjusting) to a theo-centric worldview, is that the pressure for defining self, and for generating self-esteem is not our task any longer. The pressure is off. Our worth is in our God who loves us and made us, and gave all to save us, so we could be healed, and restored. So, we are brought back to rightly, and happily living, and loving him and others again. And we also have the hope of the restored world beyond this one, in which the problems, injustice, and turmoil we cannot fix will be made good and right. This is God’s promise, and it rests in his perfect nature–which must be all-good, and all-just. God is our hope of hopes, both now and in times to come. Though this truth is not completely fathomable, it is knowable because we can sketch the contour of a perfect God, who created us, and is, in fact, not a part of our world and lives, but indeed, the very center of Reality.

This topic makes a great small group discussion that can promote spiritual introspection and growth. Use this post to generate an interesting discussion by sending a few friends here to read this post, and then chat about it together. (Also pastry and coffee helps the experience. I’ve tested it out!) Please weigh-in with some of the thoughts you came up with while you were together. 

And if you can, please list a suggestion/s for worship. Thank you for reading.