We live today in a relativistic world where truth, right and wrong are no longer considered absolutes but matters of personal choice. This approach can create troubling consequences, however. Take the example of married love. While a personal choice is initially exercised in deciding who to marry, total commitment is presumably part of one’s choice. Would you marry someone whose love for you was only ‘relative?’ True love is total and unconditional, not partial or circumstantial. It does not depend upon someone’s status, current mood, or credit rating but rather it accepts the other person in toto.
Truth, like nuptial love, is also not intended as a relative value. Love, in fact, depends on truthfulness in the form of trust. So, would you marry someone who was untrustworthy or less than truthful? Yet the high rate of broken marriages today suggests that such has quietly become the norm. Relativism has placed truth on very shifting sands by subjecting it to each person’s interpretation, which is to say an opinion. It therefore transforms truth from concrete, tangible reality into a matter of opinion. Continue reading
Today marks the 25th anniversary of my father’s death. Dad was a person of sterling integrity as well as tremendous love for my mother and their eight children. But the real legacy he left us was a deep respect for, and the unwavering pursuit of, truth. For dad the eternal verities were dearer than life itself. Perhaps I did not fully appreciate his true genius in my younger days, but time has a way of changing our perspectives. What astounds me today is that a quarter of a century has passed away which, in retrospect, feels like a year at best.
Back when my father was just a small child, Albert Einstein discovered the truth that time is not a constant but rather a variable. True, because for us time feels like something that becomes more compressed the longer we measure it. It behaves like those layers of silt and debris which settle and are flattened into geologic formations so that one inch of sandstone might represent 10,000 years of earth’s history. Continue reading
I am not a particular fan of Sigmund Freud’s theory of man which devolves around his so-called ‘Oedipus Complex’ and purports to explain some of man’s deepest primal drives. Nevertheless, the agnostic Freud clearly recognized a seemingly hard-wired cultural trait that repeatedly emerged among virtually every tribe, ethnic group, and civilization, namely the impulse to offer sacrifice. But what was one to make of this mysterious activity which made little sense to an enlightened ‘man of science?’ Hoping to distance this stubbornly recurrent phenomenon from its more natural psycho-spiritual moorings, the good doctor constructed an elaborate thesis to explain man’s predilection for sacrifice in psycho-sexual terms, Freud’s favorite home turf. He treats the subject extensively in his classic work Totem and Taboo which, despite its erroneous conclusions, does provide us with a compelling explanation of the causes and meaning of sacrifice. Continue reading
Fact: We inhabit a world filled with danger. Many of those dangers are remote or small enough that we can easily take precautions against them ourselves. Locking a car door or exercising care when crossing a busy intersection are obvious examples. But other dangers lie beyond our ability to personally control: criminal acts, cancer, or invasion by an enemy force. That is why societies maintain police, hospitals, and a standing military. We rely on doctors and pharmacists to protect us from diseases that we ourselves cannot even understand much less control.
If there were no threats to our life, security, and happiness such professions would have no reason to exist. But life, as we well understand the older we get, is beset by many dangers, both hidden and visible. Some dangers we can reasonably control, either personally or as a community, but what about those dangers over which we have no plausible control? To whom shall we turn for protection when a particular danger is so grave or overwhelming that no human power is adequate to deal with it? Continue reading
The unprecedented ascendancy of a Donald Trump in the American political equation raises some very interesting questions about the unfolding culture divide, namely that abyss between the ordinary people and a new ruling class comprised of intellectuals, tech wizards, and politicians which has widened into an insurmountable gulf. One of the more telling fault lines demarcating that growing schism involves the belief, or lack thereof, in a Divine Creator. In fact, religious skepticism has become a widely accepted creed among political elites and academics, many of whom who have adopted philosophical materialism, the belief that the only reality is material reality. That materialist philosophy is primarily buttressed by Darwinian macro-evolution, a corrosive philosophy that has been taught as a scientific certainty in virtually every public school and university in our country for decades. Continue reading
Historians recently discovered that Georgetown University had sold off a number of slaves back in 1838 in order to raise capital needed to insure the school’s survival. This revelation has apparently plunged its present day administrators into paroxysms of guilt-laden remorse and penitential self-flagellation. And while I agree that it is necessary to honestly own up to the events of history, including its more unsavory aspects, too many academic culture warriors of today seem more than willing to dismiss offhand the social context in which those past events occurred.
Today’s historical revisionists seem to expect that what people did in the past ought always to be judged by current-day social and cultural standards. The hypocrisy in this approach lies in the fact that we pretend to remove the speck in our ancestor’s eye while ignoring the beam in our own. Continue reading
My final thoughts in this series on Mormonism are excerpted from a recent letter to a young Mormon Evangelist whom I have not heard back from since posting it. Since Mormons base their apologetic on a well rehearsed and scripted narrative, any direct challenge to, or deviation from, that script is certain to evoke not robust rebuttal but generally a retreat from the debate. For the good Mormon faith is necessarily divorced from reason, or shall I say that the two things are hermetically “compartmentalized” out of fear that latter might somehow contaminate the former.
Mormonism is one of the faster growing religious bodies in the United States today as a result of active and constant proselytizing. Nonetheless, the sect continues to arouse suspicion, not the least because of its insistence that it is the only true and valid expression of Christianity. To answer this rather exalted claim one must investigate whether the primary supplemental scripture underpinning Mormon beliefs, i.e. the Book of Mormon, is a credible document. Continue reading
Mark Twain famously joked about the Mormons, “Their beliefs are singular ─ but their wives are plural.” Since Twain’s day though, mainstream Mormons have officially renounced polygamy (as a necessary condition of statehood back in 1896). But one can still strongly make the case that the beliefs of the Latter Day Saints remain quite singular, one might even say fantastic. I will get into more specific details presently, but first it may help to explore the idea of fantasy as faith, an American phenomenon which is in no way intended to cast dispersion on denizens of the Beehive State. In fact most tenets of the Mormon religion are surprisingly rational when set against many newer cultish practices, both secular and religious, that have proliferated since the advent of the 20th century. Continue reading