Tag Archives: worship

philosophy factory

Getting a Job at the Local Philosophy Factory

I see a meme pop up on Facebook from time to time of a young lady telling her family she’s decided to major in philosophy, to which her brother responds, “That’s good because they just opened up that big philosophy factory in Green Bay.” The meme is apparently inspired from the iconic That 70’s Show, and different variations on it can be seen on social media.

The meme betrays the inherent skepticism we have toward education that does not fulfill a utilitarian purpose. To study philosophy is a gigantic waste of time because it is not a job that will put bread on the table or support the common need of the nation. Philosophy is just the stereotype used, but the reaction is also true of any of the liberal arts and especially of the liberal arts as a whole. Just tell an adult you are going to major in the liberal arts and wait for the reaction; it will almost definitely be one of, “But what do you do with a liberal arts degree?”

The question that is never asked, though, is why do we respond that way? The unexamined assumption, that education has to have utilitarian ends, remains unexamined. Maybe it is time to ask the question, to examine the unexamined assumption. In a book I am currently reading, Leisure the Basis of Culture, author Josef Pieper writes:

Perhaps the reason why “purely academic” has sunk to mean something sterile, pointless and unreal is because the schola has lost its roots in religion and divine worship.

His perhaps ought to be more than just a perhaps. Schola, the Greek word for leisure from which we get the English word ‘school,’ had always been connected to religion and divine worship. This is true not only for the Greeks and Romans, but also for Medieval Christians and the ancient Hebrews. Education was ‘leisure’ precisely because it was rooted in celebration of the Divine. The fact that we so closely connect education and utility has carried over to our leisure. We no longer celebrate, in our leisure, the Divine, but rather use it as a utility to prepare us with the rest we need to go back to being utilized in the work force. More than that, though, that the purpose of education is utilitarian betrays that the purpose of man is one of utility. Education is no longer rooted to our religion and divine worship, because we no longer believe the purpose of man is for divine worship.

When someone asks you for what purpose you would study philosophy or the liberal arts, or what can you do with a philosophy or liberal arts degree, we ought to consider that the answer can and should be ‘better worship God with my whole body, mind, soul, and strength.’ And that’s okay, because the one who seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness will have the other things (food, clothing, and shelter) added unto him.

Maybe, we can return the question (lovingly, as unto a neighbor, as unto ourselves) with some questions of our own.

Does my education have to be in something I can do?

Is my purpose one of utility to society or is my purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?

A&E, This Means War!

So I’m going to do exactly what the Bible and the Church teach me to do.

I’m going to pray for decision makers at A&E.

I’m going to pray for the Robertson family.

I’m going to pray for GLAAD.

I’m going to pray for the LGBT community.

I’m going to pray. And I’m going to worship. And I’m going to repent. And I’m going to commune. And I’m going to lift up my hands. And I’m going to sing Psalms. And I’m going to love my neighbors.

And I’m going to ask you to join me.

I’m not going to ask you to stop doing whatever else you might be doing: boycotting A&E, calling A&E, writing letters to A&E, emailing the Robertsons your support, or posting articles to your favorite social media streams. I am going to ask you to remember these other things too, though, and join me.

Why Church Music Has Changed

Music is wildly diverse. People’s tastes affect music, cultural influences affect music, wars affect music, philosophy and worldviews affect music, and–what should have been obvious to me and probably is to others–architecture affects music. The combination musical notes that would sound good in a gothic cathedral are different than the combination of musical notes that would sound good in a auditorium. Musicians know this and are affected either consciously or unconsciously by the architecture they are envisioning their music will be played.

Historically, the music being written for the Church and her worship was written for churches with a specific architecture–or at the very least a limited range of architectural designs. This led to a certain kind of music being produced.

Today, our churches meet in all manner of locations: gothic buildings, cafeterias, gymnasiums, homes, auditoriums, outdoors, storefronts, and who knows where else. Thus, the Church’s music is being written for what would be suitable in the majority of churches: the cafegymnatorium. And, thus, our music has changed drastically. Depending on your particular view of what Church music should be, it has either improved or declined. I lean toward the latter, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I know now what at least one of the influences have been for this.

David Byrne, of the Talking Heads, explains in this TEDTalk.

(HT: Caleb Skogen for the video and the thoughts.)

Scheduled Attention

My friend, Jacob, recounts how he grew up in a large family: four boys and two girls. Dad was busy, working hard to make money to pay for all of the stuff his boys broke: things, sometimes each other. He had a habit, however, of scheduling time, occasionally, to spend with his kids where they would have his full attention. Sometimes it was an all day affair, sometimes it was with the boys in the morning and the girls in the evening. But they always had his full attention, and he theirs.

That is what today is for us. God has scheduled this day that we might have his full attention, and he might have ours. Today, we spend the day with our Father. Part of this day includes an hour or so where we are gathered together in worship to renew that relationship with him. Today is our special day with God.

God’s Boot Camp

Worship is the time when God conforms us to the image of Christ. He does so by wrestling with us, just as he did Jacob. First, he calls us unto himself. Then, he reveals our sinfulness to us through his Word and we fall on our faces in repentance, just as every person in the Bible has when in the presence of the Almighty. Then, he forgives us our sins, and cuts us to pieces with his sword, the preached Word. Renewed, we offer to him the fruits of our labors, we eat with him, and then we are blessed and sent back out into the world by him.

The rest of the week, we are the image of Christ to this world. We call it to God. We confront it with its sin. We move them toward repentance and forgive their sins. We disciple them with the same sword. We bless them.

In a sense, worship is both something we offer to God, and something he does to us. It is a kind of boot camp for righting this world. Where do you train for this work?

Six Thoughts Toward a Christian Perspective on War

Many of my Christian friends, pastors and lay people alike, support the current hawkish views of the Republican and Democrat parties. I don’t and I’m trying to consider why that is from a Christian perspective. Here are my preliminary thoughts on the matter.

I think God, even in the OT, is fairly opposed to aggressive wars. Here’s why.

  • Israel never engaged in preemptive war, even in their taking of the Promised Land.

Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses (emphasis mine). Jos 11:18-20

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