Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Proverbs 24 and Weird Al's White & Nerdy

Proverbs 24 provides a context for me to think about Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom.

Juxtaposed to this the parodies of culture presented in the movie Napoleon Dynamite & Weird Al and his song I'm too White and Nerdy… and you have a cutting edge expose' of how far the collapse socially of the dominant culture is in popular culture. This collapse from dominance is what post-modern folks mean when they say that the center will not hold. I do not have any problem with this to the extent that mainstream culture has also left God out of the picture.

To me this provides a huge opportunity for the people of God… because we live in a knowledge thick world that is very thin on wisdom. It is time for fresh movements of faith to rise up and demonstrate depth… words will not be enough… Let's look back at Proverbs 24 and break down some of the wisdom in it for our times…

3Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation],

4And by knowledge shall its chambers [of every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

• My First point is to try to get us to grasp where we are in our current times. KNOWLEDGE IS our cultural KING. Whether that is the heady knowledge of the Nerd, The social Elite, The Style Elite, or the Street Knowledge of the Thug. In our current cultural mythos if someone has the right Knowledge he or she will get over in life and be able to get all the "stuff" in life that matters.

The codes of knowledge… that of the academy belonging to the "Nerds" and their domain of the University, and "The Code Of the Streets" belonging to the Thugs of the world and "the hood" both have dire outcomes in terms of ultimate meaning.

As T.S. Eliot observes in this cultural decline now recognized by the academy.

"Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? "
T. S. Eliot

The Hip Hop Group" The Black Eyed Peas" share their Lament with the streets:

"What's wrong with the world mama?
People living like aint got no mamas…

People killing people dying
Children hurtin you hear them crying
Can you practice what you preach
Would you turn the other cheek?
Father Father Father help us
Send some guidance from above
Cause people got me got me questioning
Where is the love?(where is the lovex3)(the love2x)

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm getting older y'all people get colder
Most of us only care about money makin
Selfishness got us followin the wrong direction…"

This is the condition that Cornel West calls "Practical Nihilism" and Neil Postman calls it "Amusing Ourselves to Death".

The Bible Simply calls this the sin of "The Pride of Life"
The Decay in quality of thought is clearly marked out in Romans 1:21-23

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Our Idols are pop Idols like Britney Speers who is falling from her throne to Thom Cruise and many others…

We are living in a Spiritually dangerous time because our times are stuck on the "precious and pleasant riches"... that Knowledge seems to offer… Your Cell phone and Lap top in the geek world… to your myspace and thumping bad assed tunes to bee seen on MTV that can be high contexted referenced by elaborate ring tones. What makes these days in our culture so spiritually toxic is that we live in a world that teaches people to love things and use people rather than loving people and using things. Things can stimulate, but they can not love. While many people are lacking the character depth to really love (II Peter 1:3-11).

Proverbs says, "Knowledge puffs up a person"
"Pride comes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction."

The fruit of knowledge disconnected to the histories and realities that ultimately matter end in ever increasing consumptions and the loss of the role of love at every level of life & society.

By the way ... I really like the use of parrody used by Weird Al in his song "White & Nerdy". Like Bill Cosby he gets us to laugh at the twisted realities too many people are living. If there were not a lot of white people buying HIPHOP... then it would not have such a large market in the US. The fact that selling out fits the old stereotype of "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll"... or the ancient categories of sin... "The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life". Does not surprise me. But for me exposes why these forms have sold out on their capacity to communicate the deepest realities that inspire true hope and values.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In response to an open question... "Are organized Religions a Fraud?"

Current mood: contemplative
Category: Religion and Philosophy

[Most of you know that I am very passionate about my faith. I wrote this piece on an open forum that is even somewhat anti-faith... All world views and the actions that flow from them have consequences...]

I would like to suggest that all people have a world view. Part of it is inherited via culture. Part of it is caught through experience. (The basic Nature vs. Nurture debate...)

All people want to understand and be understood. It is human to form groups out of common world views and experiences. (Family Systems theory provide better continuim categories: Rigid to Flexible, Permiable to Impermiable... with evalution being based on the qualities of life produced.)

There is a lot of motivations for organized groups to do both good in the world... like the relief work of "The Salvation Army" and bad in the world... Like the crusades... Good in the world ...Like seeking a cure for cancer ... Or ??? what ??? in the world... Like... why should Britney Speers shaving her head be all that important anyway and on national news???

It is simplistic to blame great evils on being "Organized"... lots more people also die from neglect and disorganization. Rather we should evaluate the delivery system and the qualities of what is being delivered in and through each system.

It is also simplistic to think religion is the problem... Attempts to eliminate religous beliefs as in communist Russia also lead to the death of Many people. Wars have throughout history been more about the competition over resources than a world view... even when the two seem to come togehter... like in World War II...

From an anthropological point of view... Religous experience is part of the human experience. (Denial of soul care according to AA and NA is the core cause of Addictive patterns of behavior.)

Key for me is the room for dialogue, discovery, growth, and change.

Personally, when I was a child I grew up in a family that was atheistic. We encountered as a family experiences that caused us as a family to embrace a Christian World View. I have friends who both share my world view and friends who have very different understandings about the world. (I have not met a person whom I could not learn something benneficial from...)

Personally I am concerned about systems that become too closed and therefore shut down dialogue. The worst of human nature seems to come out when meaningful communication breaks down.

or Systems that become so open that concrete actions can not be taken and evaluated. Not all roads lead to the same place. And not everyone wants to go to the same place or direction. (Kierkagaard is right at this point... All actions and choices have consequences.)

It is this part that is lacking in many human groups...From family systems to Nation States... Economic systems to Systems of belief...

The open honest pursuit of evaluation by groups is what keeps groups healthier and makes for a better learning environment.

For a good but hard read on the religous end: "The Transforming Momment: a Study of convictional Knowledge" by Dr. James Loder

Another hard read... but For a resource to think about systems and to learn how to find your way of making the world a better place that will not impose on you "A religous world view": "Children and their Families in the Social Environment" by Garbarino.

Last but not least... when approaching any faith system... get as close as you can to reading the original sources yourself. The word "Bible" means little books for example... Each little book has it's own historical context.

I like the presentation of the, "Pocket Cannons" as a simple place to explore the Bible:

I am a poet... so I enjoy what Bono says in his intro about the book of Psalms... a rich book for any poet to read... I think I will play his song 40 just for old time sake.

Currently listening :
The Best of 1980-1990
By U2
Release date: By 10 November, 1998

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Week... Now which week is not that???

Current mood: thankful

For Me the Resurection of Christ reminds me that the risk of Loving and the Challenge of living is all worth it...

Here is my word of encouragement to all my friends for "Holy Week"... actually life is a gift... so it is all a miracle...

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be
shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind.
Think big anyway.
What you spend years building may
be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack if you help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have
and you might get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
- Anonymous