why do we fight? why do we wage war?

next post.  same book.  everlasting man, G.K. Chesterton...

why do we fight?  we do we wage war?  what's in it for the soldiers?  a good question.  something i've asked myself before.  what causes men/women to go to war?  why risk their lives?  pride.  bravery.  defense.  what causes people to take up arms and kill others?

G.K. writes,
"In nothing is this new history needed os much as in the psychology of war.  Our history is stiff with official documents, public or private, which tell us nothing of the thing itself.  At the worst we only have the official posters, which could not have been spontaneous because they were official.  At the best we have only the secret diplomacy, which could not have been popular precisely because it was secret.  Upon one or other of these is based the historical judgment about the real reasons that sustained the struggle.  Governments fight for colonies or commercial rights; governments fight about harbours or high tariffs; governments fight for a gold mine or a pearl fishery.  It seems sufficient to answer that governments do not fight at all.  Why do the fighters fight?  What is the psychology that sustains the terrible and wonderful thing called war?"

later he says, "It is always stubbornly and stupidly repeating that men fight for material ends, without reflecting for a moment that the material ends are hardly ever material to the men who fight."

in war...who wins?  how is the winner decided?  are the winners content, happy, satisfied?  were the sacrifices and losses incurred worth it?  how do we decide the worth of human life?

in the last election there was a great deal of argument, usually hostile and irrational, about abortion.  now, abortion is never good.  it is never right.  it is always bad, horrible, evil, murder, etc.  however, when i brought up to people that war and guns kill people as well, they said i was crazy.  in fact, they rationalized, God sometimes wants us to go to war.  sometimes war is necessary.  so, therefore, sometimes the loss of human life is necessary.  hmmmmm....

who gets to decide?  why do we fight?  why do we kill?

G.K. is right.  we need to look at the psychology of war.  especially in times like these.  in times where more and more men and women are returning from war with minds that are beaten.  with spirits that are tired and tortured.  what will we do?  thank them, then forget about them?

why do we fight?


the everlasting man

reading, the everlasting man, by G.K. Chesterton.  the book is, some believe, a direct response to H.G. Wells', outline of history.  Chesterton's writing and polemic is almost hilarious!  it's refreshing.  he says things that make you go, "yeah, i guess he's right!"  he makes you think, and anymore, that's a really great thing.  we need to think!

here's some inspiration.  for free.  be inspired.  but please, do something with this inspiration.  [inspiration that doesn't inspire one to actually do something is pretty much worthless]

Chesterton is talking about "comparative religions," and he basically says:  "you can't compare religions.  it's not a level playing field."  that's what i love about G.K.  he just says what he thinks.  he doesn't deny or gloss over the Truth.  maybe not the greatest evangelism tool, but it's got my attention.  in his look at world religions, Chesterton notices that almost all religions have an idea of a Supreme god who is in charge of the other gods.  every religion has the one god who is over the other gods.  he is also refuting popular theories of evolution where, he rightfully argues, everyone becomes a god.

Chesterton writes, "In short, there is a feeling that there is something higher than the gods; but because it is higher it is also further away...For them what was truly divine was very distant, so distant that they dismissed it more and more from their minds...As the Jews would not degrade it by images, so the Greeks did not degrade it even by imaginations.  When the gods were more and more remembered only by pranks and profligacies, it was relatively a movement of reverence.  It was an act of piety to forget God."

"it was an act of piety to forget God."

the big, supreme being, became so scary, other, holy, that it was too much to think about or talk about.  this being was unreachable.  so it was an act of piety to forget God.  

unfortunately, we do this today.  dealing with God means dealing with sin.  it means we have to deal with God's holiness.  in the end, we come out like Isaiah, "i am unclean and i live among a people who are unclean.  i'm not worthy."

let us confess.  let us turn to the God that reaches down to us even when we ignore him or believe he is far off.  and, let us be sure that he will bend down and listen.  thanks G.K.!



back from the annual high school retreat at Cascades Camp.
i love retreats.  i love retreat-ing.  getting away from the junk that clutters my life; the distractions; the stress.

it seems like every time i go on a retreat or go to camp, i'm reminded of my call.  i'm reminded of why i work with youth.

if i'm honest, there are days i wonder, "why am i doing this?"  those days where i'm at church until 10 pm.  those nights, weekends, weeks away from family.  the pain of watching kids make bad choices.  the feelings of inadequacy...

that's what makes my camp experiences so meaningful.  camp reminds me of why i work with youth.  camp re-energizes me.  at camp, God reminds me of the call on my life to serve youth.
God reminds me to be attentive;
to listen to the stories of students;
to let loose and have fun [be vulnerable];
to worship;
to give thanks for creation;
to be joyful instead of cynical.

for me, God shows up when i'm retreat-ing.  God shows up when i'm out of my element.  

what about you?  when does God show up for you?  what are the places in life where you go to unwind and be renewed?


romans 7

i've been off and on this "read the bible in a year" program of sorts since last May [i think]...

today's readings [i'm a week behind] were from Romans 6 and 7.  i can't get over Paul's honesty.  Paul, the know-it-all, Pharisee of Pharisees, admits he does what he doesn't want to do.  it's these sorts of honest reflections on the human condition that make the bible more real for me.  Paul admits that there are things he wants to do but doesn't and things he does do but doesn't.  Paul is imperfect.  Paul is like me.  Paul is human.  


Paul also recognizes God's kindness.  Paul recognizes that God is the instigator of the reconciliation.  in the New Living Translation which i've been reading the translation says that we were enemies of God, but now God calls us friends because of the reconciliation made through Jesus Christ.

do you want to be God's friend?  do you want to be in relationship with the Creator of all that is?  it is available.  God is available.  Christ came to point us toward God and reveal God's grace and kindness.


prayer in the new year

why is it that though i believe in prayer, i pray so infrequently?
why is it that though i believe in prayer, i teach and lead others in prayer so infrequently?

i believe prayer changes things.  i believe God cares.  yet i neglect to pray.  why?

i began thinking what i was taught about prayer as a kid.  from a young age i learned that prayer was private, or something an adult did out loud for a meal or in church.  in these cases, the prayer must use lofty words and be sure to say the right things, be a professional pray-er.  every night i would go to bed and say a prayer.  at the beginning of the week i would say my prayer asking God to protect my family from robbers, tornadoes, etc.  then each night after that i would simply say, "God, i pray the same prayer i prayed last night."  i kid you not.  i figured that if i at least said the full prayer once a week God would honor my requests.

in high school and college i learned about "popcorn" prayer where pray-ers say "just" a whole lot and usually repeat some sort of title for God such as "Father God" or "Lord Jesus" a thousand times in the course of a prayer.  does anyone really know the actual definition of the word "just" anymore?  

then there was seminary.  i learned about lectio divina and praying the Psalms.  someone even said it was okay to be contemplative and imaginative in prayer.  people talked about reading the Bible and praying what you read; the idea that God might actually speak to us through Scripture.  i learned that praying in church could be participatory.

why did it take seminary for me to learn these practices?  well, for the same reason my youth group students don't know these things.  people like me don't tell them!  sad.  but true.

i've been reading a book by Mark Yaconelli, Downtime:  Helping Teenagers Pray.  i see that theoblog looked at this book some time ago....i love the suggestion of encouraging teens to be imaginative.  use your imagination.  be present with God.  talk to God.  imagine that God is actually doing something about your prayer.  imagine that God might actually speak to you.  i think i knew and believed all these things, but it sure would have been nice to have someone help me experience and express these types of prayers.  

now the task it to incorporate these ideas into ministry.  that's where the New Year comes in.  i am challenging myself to pray for students and encourage and equip them to make prayer a bigger part of their lives.  otherwise, i guess i just keep praying the same prayer i prayed yesterday...good enough, right?