Blog and writing news

Romanticism and Existential Philosophy

This is an interesting piece on romanticism and existential philosophy

Philosophy Is Not A Luxury

I have bee recently reading a book called “Irrational Man” by William Barrett. It was originally written in 1962 and it is generally recognized as the book that introduced the Existential philosophy of continental Europe to America. You may be familiar with existentialists, perhaps even without knowing that they were existentialist. Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard are some of the big names in Existentialism. Martin Heidegger is another.

As I have read about these late 19th and 20th century thinkers they appear to me to be an extension of the Romantic Movement of the early 19th century. The Romantics, as I have described in this blog, were reacting to what they saw as the excessive intellectualism of the European Enlightenment. They believed that humankind had developed an untenable hubris in relationship to its ability to understand everything. The bottom line…

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Blog and writing news, Christian hedonism, Enjoying God, Sanctification, Worship

The One Design of the Christian Life: Enjoying God

One design you are to pursue to the end of time – the enjoyment of God in time and in eternity. Desire other things so far as they tend to this; love the creature, as it leads to the creator. But in every step you take, be this the glorious point that terminates your view. Let every affection, and thought and word, and action, be subordinate to this. Whatever you seek or shun, whatever you think, speak, or do, be it in order to your happiness in God, the sole end, as well as source, of your being.”

John Wesley, Plain Account of Christian Perfection.

Through my many years as a Christian, I’ve found that this is the real crux, the real design, and the real goal of the Christian inward life. While we have many responsibilities and desires, it always leads back to this one thing – enjoying God in this life and the life to come.

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Blog and writing news

The Launch of Life-Ecstatic

1 Thessalonians 5:

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This is a key verse and, if read both in its context and simply, implies that God may “sanctify” a Christian “completely”, keeping the whole soul and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It continues to say that God is faithful and “he will surely do it.”

Can we see what it says? It says we may be “completely” or “entirely” sanctified. For any person who has come to life in Christ Jesus (AKA, a Christian) this is a pretty stunning promise.

Psalm 16:

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures [delights] for evermore.

It’s with these two verses that I relaunch my faith blog under the name Life-Ecstatic. The word “ecstatic” is used as a noun for mystics and as an adjective for experiencing joy and excitement. I’ll be using it in both these respects, pointing toward a ‘valid’ mysticism that belongs to the Christian life, a mysticism that’s about ‘devotion’ (that alone should give you a clue where that’s going to go) and speak about the single goal of every Christian’s life, which is joy in God. My blogs will go around qualifying why I see it that way and encouraging Christians to bring all of their life onto one single focus, one single goal.

I’m of the firm belief that many Christians feel pulled this way and that way with the mass of information, books, blogs and teachings out there. Yes, my one is another one. But, I’ve found that when you’re able to pull your focus toward one thing, there is fruit and direction in your life. Pursuing “joy in God” is another way of saying that our central goal is to “worship God”, but I don’t use that language because the word “worship” has become quite vague for many of us.

To come back to the beginning, it’s this ‘joy in God’ that leads us to sanctification, the outcome of that inward desire of the Christian to live a holy life before God and man. “Holy” means a life of perfect love, the kind of love Jesus had. It doesn’t mean we dress in strange clothes and hang out on a mountain in solitude, but solitude is certainly a way of getting to the goal! So how all of these sorts of things interconnect will be the main themes of these blogs.

My blogs on business, current affairs and so on will be housed at my www.ryanpeterwrites.com website.

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Blog and writing news

Anne Rice Interview: Why She Quit Christianity

For those of you who don’t know Anne Rice, she is best known as the author of The Vampire Chronicles including Interview with the Vampire, which was translated into a movie some time back, starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Christian Slater. She’s a great writer.

A few years back (I don’t really know how long ago) she became a Christian, a Catholic in particular. But recently she has announced that she has quit Christianity.

This is a great interview (only just over four minutes) where she explains a little more about why she quit Christianity and what she means by that. She also briefly explains her new work focused on angels. I found it interesting, especially since I am a writer myself and a Christian.

(I can’t get the embed code to work properly, so please watch it here)

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Blog and writing news

Being Honest: God Has Disappointed Me

Picture credit — here

Has God ever disappointed you? He’s disappointed me, many times, if I’m going to be honest. Which obviously I am.

Several things have influenced this post. One, last week someone I know objected to Philip Yancey’s book ‘Disappointment with God’. I don’t think they quite understood the point of the book, nor Yancey’s style, which is usually about brutal honesty.

Second, I find myself once again disappointed with many things in my life that I have hoped for. And after each disappointment, each fresh realisation that actually certain things MAY NEVER happen that I hope(d) for, I have to go back to a startling revelation that was given to me years and years ago, and tends to become deeper and deeper every time I get to this point of disappointment: The point of my life is to find joy in it. In the life I have. In the circumstances I am in, regardless of what they are. The point is not to find joy in the life I wish I had; the life I live in my dreams; a life that can sometimes become so real that the only response to my own life is disappointment and depression and frustration that God doesn’t seem to care much about the life I WANT.

God is more committed to our life than we are. Let me reiterate it to drive it home. He is more committed to my life than I am. I want the life of my dreams, he wants me to enjoy the life I’ve actually got. It’s like I’m munching on a delicious and juicy nectarine but thinking to myself that I’d prefer an orange. Oh why, Lord, did you give me this delicious nectarine? I want an orange. And so I miss just how wonderful the nectarine is because my mind is thinking about how great it would be if I had an orange.

God seems very interested in giving us joy IN our circumstances, not just taking our circumstances away. Joy is in God, not in our circumstances going away. I have to keep learning that lesson. The miracle of a life in God is being joyous in the troubles of life, not the troubles of life just being taken away. Yes, God does take away some troubles, but there are other troubles that seem to stay. But yet God is there, ready to give us joy in the midst of those troubles, as we cling to our great hope that finally, one day, EVERY tear will be wiped away and everything will, at last, be made new. Including us.

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Do We Know How to Ask?

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened … If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

I write this in a time when I am doing a LOT of asking God for things, many of which I have been trusting for for years now.

In our modern McDonalds fast-food culture, we can get confused with scriptures that tell us to simply ‘ask’ and we will receive. Attempts at making this easier to understand by including the idea that we must ask what God wants can sometimes just aggravate us, because many things we ask for (such as health or a healing) seem to make sense to be God’s will, both biblically and logically.

But the kind of asking the Bible talks about is different. It incorporates these other two actions as well — seeking and knocking. The knocking can, quite clearly, refer to a persistence and the seeking to a knowing of what God’s will is, but I think there’s more to it than just that (as profound as those might be).

We don’t just seek to know His Will but we seek to know Him. We seek His presence. In our asking, seeking His presence is a huge part of the whole thing. We don’t just want to know what God wants, we want to know who he is. And we want to keep knocking on the door where we keep asking, “Who are You Lord? Show me who You are!” If we seek we will find, if we knock the door will be opened.

Do we know what asking means? Do we know how to ask? God is not a McDonalds, clearly, we don’t do much seeking and knocking when we pick up our double cheese burgers. Neither are those double cheese burgers very nourishing. As we seek and knock to know Him, we find ourselves nourished, with peace, joy and such things; the very core need of any of our prayers.

God wants us to ask, seek and knock at the same time. See, God is not one who is quick to reward, but when he rewards, he rewards richly.

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Why Theology is Important for Social Justice Pt 1

World religions, theologies and spiritualities

I think theology is a highly important topic. That’s why I write about it so much. Our theology (or lack of one) is important because it influences the way we live, and therefore it influences the way we see justice and how we take action.

Justice, or social justice, is a big topic these days. Everyone’s talking about it in some form or another, while fewer may be doing something about it, and even fewer can get to do something about it full-time.

If you’re a pantheist (the belief that God is everything, and everything is God, basically) or a panentheist (the belief that God is IN everything, and everything IN God) I think social justice will be a challenge. If God is everything, God is also the evil people of the world, and he is also that instinct, that tendency, to do evil. If God is IN everything, he is also IN that tendency, and IN evil people (and they are IN him).

Pantheism and panentheism is a very interesting and romantic way of looking at the world. But I think it can lead to problems of justice. I think Taoism is one of the most mature pantheistic philosophies out there, but a core tenet of Taoism is not to disrupt the flow of things — as the Beatles sang: “Let it be.” Evil and death can seem so natural because it’s all we’re used to, but if we believe we must not disrupt the ‘flow’ of things, then how could we be passionate about social justice? I don’t see any logical way that we could.

Now I would like to be fair to pantheism and panentheism and not write it off just like that with a few words. I’d be open to debate it as I think it would make an interesting discussion. But even pantheism’s modern cousin (a kind of spiritual environmentalism) presents the same problem. Even its strange cousin (a sort of atheist pantheism, which we’ll talk about) presents problems for justice.

Our theology influences our worldview, and our worldview influences the way we live. We’ll expand on this through a series of posts.

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