Monday, May 28, 2012

Porn And Video Game Addictions

Several years ago when I was doing graduate work in the area of philosophy I had completed a significant amount of reading for a research paper that I never wrote on the subject of pornography.  Some of the observations that I had made paralleled some of my recent conclusions about video game addictions, and more specifically simulated combat gaming.  The connection is that both represent a simulacrum of man's most instinctual behaviors which is to love and protect.  However, what happens when what is intended to be a simulacrum becomes confused with the real thing?

A recent book entitled The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling And What We Can Do About It makes the argument:
When these drives are directed toward the illusion of ever-expanding novelty, they kill joy. The search for a mate is good, but blessedness isn't in the parade of novelty before Adam. It is in finding the one who is fitted for him, and living with her in the mission of cultivating the next generation. When necessary, it is right to fight. But God's warfare isn't forever novel. It ends in a supper, and in a perpetual peace.
Moreover, these addictions foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression. The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation. The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one's life. In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one's reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.
If these claims are legitimate then the implications are troubling.  The authors go on to say “an addiction to video games and online porn have created a generation of shy, socially awkward, emotionally removed, and risk-adverse young men who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school, and employment.”  Whether these claims are substantiated will have to be determined by the reader.  However, it is always dangerous when that which is intended to be a simulacrum of life becomes  confused with the real thing resulting in a problematic interpretation and response to actual life.  What we can do about it?  So as not to misrepresent the authors I will have to let them speak for themselves.  However, I will say they are on to something.

In Memory of Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice


In memoray of:
Cpt. Tyndall
Sgt. Dew
Spc. Blodgett
Spc. Magill
Pvt. Allison
3rd Battalion 17th Infantry 7th Infantry Division

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

"We must stress that the basis for our faith is neither experience nor emotion but the truth as God has given it in verbalized, prepositional form in the Scripture and which we first of all apprehend with our minds." -Francis Schaeffer (The New Super-Spirituality, IVP, 1972, p. 24.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kitchkade?

I don’t know why but it has been well over a month since Thomas Kinkade has passed and in a delayed reaction I am just now thinking about the “artist of light.”  Perusing the recent articles I have been able to learn a great many things about Kinkade.  In spite of the tasteless attacks against a dead person the one thing that I found strange is the consistent use of the term “Kitch” to describe Kinkades work.  Once again, Kinkades personal life aside, the man has passed and his critics find this to be an opportune time to attack him.  Who does that?  Exhibit A from the Huffington Post one commenter has written:

"May his work forever be found above ugly sofas worldwide. My condolences to his family. I consider his work to the the Starbucks of art. Overpriced, overhyped, everywhere and leaving a bad taste in the mouth. If anything could best represent the senseless consumerism of the past 20 years, it was the work of Thomas Kinkade. Rockwell captured with great eloquence very human moments, emotions, and a time that will never come again. Disney was one of the greatest pioneers of animation and entertainment. Kinkade should never be compared to them. Well marketed mediocrity should never be celebrated."

I am not a Kinkade fan.  However, I do represent the one out of 20 homes that owns a Kinkade.  I have had it for over 16 years and I don’t know where it is.  But, to take the stance that his work is kitch and “should never be celebrated” is the height of arrogance.

I understand how one in the art industry can take offense to kitch.  After all its appeal to the masses of those unqualified to be an art aficionado is offensive in itself.  But when you intentionally set out to replicate true forms capturing moments in life as they are so that you might bring happiness to the casual observe that’s when you’ve gone to far.  Only a rake would pander to the common folks selling thoughtless, expressionless, unoriginal cliches, and try to pass them off as art.  But here is something to consider.  At what point does the search for originality become conformance to the strange and esoteric.  Or are we to out do the other in an attempt to be more avant-garde than thou?

The misquote above from the commenter in the Huffington Post was not Kinkade attempting to compare himself artistically with Rockwell or Disney.  Rather, he was talking about what he has in common, which was his desire to bring happiness.  So if your a critic don’t hate on the man’s success.  He simply provided what most of us want in art, something beautiful to look at.  If we want to be confounded by the strange or esoteric we’ll pick up some Derrida.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is it Biblical to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart?

Trevin Wax has put up a very interesting article at Gospel Coalition on the subject of the Biblical legitimacy of using metaphorical or content-less phrases to describe what one must do to be saved.  In other words we have all heard the mandate to "ask Jesus into your heart" or "accepting Christ," "receiving Christ" etc.  As Wax has pointed out there is an entire new generation of young pastors who are calling these phrases into question out of a genuine concern of offering false assurance.  On the other side of the debate are pastors that have used this terminology their entire career not seeing any problems with it and find no reason to change it.  These pastors will even point to single line passages in the Bible that say "accept" "receive" Jesus.  Here in lies the problem.

Wax-I think-rightly explains that "the conversation about “the sinner’s prayer” and “asking Jesus into your heart” is not really about the legitimacy of such methods or the biblical justification for using expressions like “having a personal relationship with Christ” or “receiving Jesus.” I believe that properly understood and explained, any of these methods and terms can be used, to good effect."  "Properly understood" is the key in this debate.  I know there are people at Church who I can use terms like "accept Jesus" and they would not only fully understand what I mean but have the same understanding.  However, generally speaking I would say there is a large majority that would not believe that terminology requires an explanation whats so ever.

Why would this be the case?  Because, as a Church culture those catch phrases have been the language of our discourse.  There meaning was assumed but rarely explained.  To the point that children are taught to ask Jesus into their heart without out any explanation of how that is accomplished or what that might mean.  It is wrong to assume that this is only simplistic language to help children understand.  That type of reasoning seems to trivialize sharing the truth of Christ to our little ones.  Moreover this isn't just a problem for children.  As it turns out this is a problem with many adults too.

My final point is simply that the difference between the two camps that we are discussing are the result of different hermeneutics.  Without getting into too much detail here it seems that those who find proof texts for catch phrases like "accept Jesus" are not using the analogy of faith which is Scripture interprets scripture.  The end result is a proof text without content.  If we allow Scripture to interpret itself some of the passages that we would think are vague or ambiguous find there meaning in the passages that are more straight forward.  Make sense?  Tell me your thoughts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baptist Faith & Message Exposition: By the faculty of SBTS


"An age that holds truth in antipathy will look at confessions of faith as antiquarian holdovers from an oppressive past. On the other hand, an institution determined to remain true to biblical
truth must be honest about its boundaries." -Al Mohler


Sometimes I forget that I belong to a confessional Church.  Just as the culture has joined in an aporia or "waylessness" in relativistic presuppositions, Christiandom has also unconsciously adopted its own forms of aporia as it conforms itself to the latest fad.  Always mutating to meet the fickle needs of a Church culture who isn't primarily interested in what it means to be the church.  As the tides of secular culture crash against the church many Churches have abandoned the bulwark to protect themselves from being carried of into the turbulent seas of secularism.  I speaking of the historic creeds and confessions that have kept the church from deviating into unchristian waters for the past 2000 years.

In my denomination we have adopted a marginal view of our confession believing it to be an "antiquarian holdover from an oppressive past."  Nothing can be further from the truth.  As it turns out we have become self conscious of stigmas like "antiquarian" because they aren't trendy, hip, or "relevant."  At what cost do we abandon the defenses that protect us from secular influences?  What we have is a Church culture that claims to understand what is truly relevant, but Biblically speaking understands very little of what it means to be the body of Christ.  Dorothy Sayers was correct is asserting, if you don't have a Christian creed by default you end up embracing chaos.  

I appreciate the work that the faculty members at SBTS have put together in the brief exposition of the Baptist Faith & Message.  You can read this brief exposition by clicking the link below.           

http://www.sbts.edu/documents/bfmexposition.pdf