What is Metaphysical Capital and Do You Have Any?

Here at the Disciple Nations Alliance we speak much about the role of worldview in development and how the metaphysical capital of a biblical worldview can lead to the flourishing of a people and nation.

You may be thinking, Metaphysical capital? What’s that?

capital can be metaphysical as well as financialIn development circles people talk of the need for economic capital, material capital such as natural resources, social capital, and intellectual capital for building a thriving community and nation.

Metaphysical capital is ideas. Not just any ideas, but the fundamental notions by which people understand life and with which they shape their lives. Metaphysical capital is the basic set of ideas about life on which people build their lives and societies

The question is What is the metaphysical capital for building a flourishing individual life, community and nation?

Recently I saw an online advertisement that suggested an answer. It read, “The art of living life to the fullest.”

Curious, I clicked the ad and read,

A life of “doing” trumps a life of “having” every time. Money spent on things like travel, special days with loved ones and learning something new, lead to a sense of fulfillment far superior to accumulating physical possessions. Don’t just live a little … live a lot!

The ad showed photos of people “doing” all sorts of entertaining activities from fishing to snorkeling.

Many of us would agree that doing is more fulfilling than having. But does it matter what we do? Is the notion of doing all sorts of entertaining and stimulating things sufficient metaphysical capital for building a truly flourishing life and nation? A look at history and real life indicate it is not. So, what is?

We find the answer in the biblical worldview. In the Bible we see God has added one more essential element to this idea. This is to do things or to do life in a way that benefits others—to love your neighbor as yourself. My colleague, Bob Moffitt, calls this the irreducible minimum of all God’s commands in the Bible.

Booker T. Washington, born a slave and founder of Tuskegee Institute, experienced this to be true. He said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

Doing life in a way that benefits others does not have to be huge or complicated. For example, my good friend regularly walks his dog and once a week takes a plastic bag and picks up any trash he finds along the way. For him, doing a walk becomes a way to benefit others in his neighborhood.

My wife does this when checking out at a store by recognizing and engaging in some small way with the clerk. Doing checkout becomes a way to benefit another.

This idea of “benefiting others” may not seem very significant, but multiply it by the number of activities in your day. Multiply that again by the number of people in a nation. Now you have a formula for thriving. You have the metaphysical capital for building an individual life, community, and nation that flourishes and prospers.

God knows this because he designed and set it up this way. Thus, he commands us to love our neighbor because he loves us and wants us to flourish. This is the Biblical worldview and metaphysical capital that leads to the flourishing of people and nations.

-          Dwight Vogt

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From “Virtues” to “Values”: A Lamentable Change in Terms

It is popular today to speak of Christian “values.” There are even organizations that use the word in their name to grab the attention of Christians and other traditionalists who are concerned with the state of the family and the moral and spiritual condition of the state.

-         Traditional Values Coalition
-         Family Values
-         Christian Values Network
-         Voices for Family Values
-         Values Action Team
-         American Values Network
 

Many other organizations, like Focus on the Family and American Family Association, don’t incorporate the word in their name but have a similar passion for traditional values. These groups, found in a number of countries, are usually socially, religiously and politically conservative.

While the word “values” is currently very popular, its use is a reflection that we have ceded an important word, and the loss to our culture is reflected in our  word choice.

Before the word “values” became popular, the word “virtue”—a Biblical term– was used to define the character of an individual and a nation. The Hebrew Old Testament uses חַיִל (ḥǎ•yil): “noble character, strong character, worthy person;” the Greek New Testament uses ἀρετή (arête): “virtue, goodness, excellence.” Note that both words are rooted in moral character and goodness.

Noah Webster did not include the word values in his 1828 dictionary

Lexicographer Noah Webster, the founding father of American education, developed an American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828. Webster was consciously functioning from a Biblical worldview as he defined the language for a new nation. In his dictionary, he defines virtue as “moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law.”

Note a couple of observations about virtue. First, it has a standard – it’s about moral goodness. Also, it requires an action, i.e. the practice of being and doing good, and the avoidance of vice, i.e. conduct that is morally unfit. It’s a lifelong process of conforming to the moral law.

The word “virtue” requires moral discipline. Today it has mostly disappeared from the modern vocabulary. It’s replacement—a poor substitute—is the term “values.” Here is a word free of moral gravitas and responsibility. “Values” entails nothing more than personal preference: you have your values, I have mine. The shift from virtues to values has been titanic.

The word “virtue” was born out of the Judeo-Christian worldview, which acknowledges the existence of God and a moral universe. Human beings are made in the image of God as moral and rational creatures. Virtuous living leads to human flourishing.

The modern word “values” was born out of an atheist-materialist worldview. In this framework God does not exist and thus the universe is amoral. There is no right or wrong, good or evil. Human beings are highly evolved animals whose survival is determined by their fitness and cunning. The only law is kill or be killed, the ultimate goal is pleasure without boundaries. Values are subjective and relative. Our personal preferences can actually pit us against each other. A culture of death engulfs our lives.

The change in vocabulary is the result of a shift in worldview. Judeo-Christian theism built the freest, most just and civil society the world has  yet known. Alas, this has given way to today’s atheistic-materialistic worldview. It is this shift in worldview that brought the shift in language.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German existential philosopher, coined the phrase “the death of God.” In 1820 Nietzsche sparked the revolution that reduced virtues—a term invested with biblical meaning, to values – a personal and sociological construct. Nietzsche realized that denying the existence of God would have consequences: everything rooted in God’s existence would die with Him. The concept of humans as God-image bearers died. The existence of objective truth and absolute morality died. Human beings were reduced to highly evolved animals, truth to opinion, and virtues to values. All that was left was the “will to power.”

These two worlds are very different. A world of virtues is a world of gravitas where people and ideas mean something. Human significance is derived from God. And because God is the author of goodness, beauty, and truth, there are moral absolutes. To live within the framework of the kingdom of God is to live virtuously.

On the other hand, a world posited by atheists is a world without weight, light as air. Values are personal, subjective, and relative. I have my values and opinions and you have yours. Our fitness and cunning will determine who survives.

American historian Gertrude Himmelfarb in the De-Moralization of Society, writes: “It was not until the present century that morality became so thoroughly relativized and subjectified that virtues cease to be ‘virtues’ and became ‘values.’”

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the word “value” is not found in Webster’s 1828 dictionary. A lexicographer defining the language of new nation from a distinctly Biblical worldview included virtue but not values. Only a virtuous people can build a free, just, and compassionate nation. A nation free from moral law, a nation of mere values, will not long be free, just, or compassionate. Replacing virtues with values gives voice to the Darwinist mantra “survival of the fittest.”

In his modern classic The Closing of the American Mind, American professor and classicist Alan Bloom chronicled the demise of virtue in the American psyche. There are no longer virtues, there is now only one virtue: tolerance.

Relativism is necessary to openness, and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness – and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings – is the great insight of our times.

Unfortunately, Christians have surrendered! We have capitulated to this erosion of language and subconsciously to the worldview of our culture. We are passionate about truth, beauty and goodness. We are concerned about the breakdown of our families and our cultures. But we have become trapped in the relativist’s language of “values.”

Writing in Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey succinctly says: “When we use the term values, we are broadcasting to the secular worlds a message that says we are only about our own group’s idiosyncrasies, which the rest of society should tolerate as long as it doesn’t upset any important public agendas (emphasis Pearcey’s).”

As Professor Bloom said about the modern mind, “A value-creating man is a plausible substitute for a good man.”

No, there is no substitute for a good man! And the West is reaping the whirlwind of a values-oriented culture, a society of lawlessness. To build a society that is good requires living virtuously. To live virtuously, we must know intimately the One Good, True, and Beautiful God.

-         Darrow Miller

 

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Coram Deo: DNA Training At Your Fingertips

The Darrow Miller and Friends blog is a service of the Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA). And we’re just around the corner from one of the biggest, most exciting roll outs DNA has offered in a long time.

Go here to read about Coram Deo: A School for Discipling Nations

The DNA exists to help the Church rise to her full potential as God’s principal agent in restoring, healing and blessing broken nations. We do that by distributing a school of thought, publishing and training in 60+ countries of the world. Over the years since Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt founded the DNA, we have been blessed to develop teams of trainers in many countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

DNA new Coram Deo training

That’s a wonderful privilege. And it’s been great to see the DNA “virus” spread.

But there are always more requests that we can fill. Even with the multiplication of training teams we don’t have the capacity to go everywhere we’re asked to go.

And of course even when we are on location somewhere, not everyone who wants the training is able to arrange their schedule to take it.

That’s why Coram Deo is such a breakthrough strategy. Now, the DNA Vision Conference, our flagship training event, will be available online.

Go here to read more.

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Culture Wars: the World in Crisis

culture wars roil the WestThe culture wars haven’t ended – they’ve escalated, and they will continue to escalate in a society where people have fewer commonly held views, and less respect for those who disagree with them for any reason, least of all a religious one. The lack of a shared language of compromise and respect leads to ongoing and increasingly contentious clashes of faith, politics, and sexual rights, where lightning rods of courts and culture lead to flashpoints that strain social bonds, break friendships, and end the ability to have a healthy community where disagreement over law and politics does not lead to death threats on social media.

The writer, Benjamin Domenech, is publisher of The Federalist, a web magazine focused on culture, politics, and religion. The quote is from his end-of-year article “The World in Crisis.”

Here’s some elaboration:

  • The culture wars have not ended, though many people wish they would. Some, including many within the evangelical Christian community, are trying to ignore the culture wars or pretend they do not exist.
  • Until these differences are resolved at the root level—the level of worldview and ideas—the friction at the political level will only increase.
  • As a nation we no longer have a shared language. Our founding documents and institutions used theological language. Such was our common discourse. For many Americans of faith, this is still their language of discourse. For others it is only a memory, or a wish. But for most Americans today, the language is secular and psychological. This change in language is reflective of the change in worldview from the founding fathers to the present day.
  • Until there is a revival and corresponding reformation which restores the nation to the faith of the founding fathers, or until the shrinking minority gives up the fight, these tensions will continue.
  • This chasm will lead to an increase in the number and intensity of the flashpoints “that strain social bonds, break friendships,” divide communities and churches, and reduce or destroy civil discourse.
  • This uncivil discord has led to death threats on social media. But few people want to talk about or contemplate the potential of an eruption of violence. Citizens fearful of the future are buying guns and ammunition. The Office of Homeland Security and the National Guard are preparing for civil unrest.

This cultural struggle is going on at three levels in the West: internationally, between Europe and the United States; nationally, among citizens of North America; within the church, among Christians.

Francois Heisbourg, Director of the Foundation of Strategic Research in Paris, describes the disconnect between mother Europe and her daughter, the USA: “The biblical references in politics, the division of the world between good and evil, these are things that we simply don’t get …. In a number of areas, it seems to me that we are no longer part of the same civilization.”

“The biblical references in politics, the division of the world between good and evil, these are things that we simply don’t get …. it seems to me that we are no longer part of the same civilization.”

Europe was the root that produced the fruit of Western civilization. From Europe came the experiment in freedom known as the United States of America. But today we are no longer part of the same civilization.

While this chasm is fixed between Europe and the USA, it is growing to the breaking point in the US. Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin observes that the 50 states are no longer united but divided: “We are no longer one nation under God. We are two separate nations with two distinct and incompatible moral visions.”

Dan Balz, an American political correspondent with the Washington Post, writes on the culture wars as manifest in the political culture in the United States.

Political polarization has ushered in a new era in state government, where single-party control of the levers of power has produced competing Americas. One is grounded in principles of lean and limited government and on traditional values; the other is built on a belief in the essential role of government and on tenets of cultural liberalism.

On the political level Balz understands the problem. He focuses on the distinction between so-called “red states” grounded in conservative values and limited government, because the people are self-governing, as opposed to the “blue states” grounded in progressive values (particularly social values) and a powerful central government.

Balz continues:

The values that underpin these governing strategies reflect contrasting political visions, and the differences can be seen in stark terms in the states. In a red state such as Texas, government exists mostly to get out of the way of the private sector while holding to traditional social values. In blue states such as California and Maryland, government takes more from taxpayers, particularly the wealthy, to spend on domestic priorities while advancing a cultural agenda that reflects the country’s growing diversity.

Go here to read the Balz article.

While Balz acknowledges that the divide in governing strategy is based on differing “political visions,” he does not seem to understand that the political vision of a nation is a small part of a larger cultural vision. And that cultural vision is derived from principles, ultimately from a worldview.

To say it differently, the Judeo-Christian worldview will produce different first principles and subsequently different governing policies than will the worldview of secular-materialism.

Here’s another example of the eruption of the culture wars to the forefront of American life: the firing of Phil Robertson by the global communications giant A&E Networks. Robertson is the patriarch of the popular Duck Dynasty. A&E, a socially progressive no-holds-barred entertainment channel, took offense at Phil’s candor, in an off-air interview, about the nature and importance of traditional family. His words were both coarse and politically incorrect. But coarse and even vulgar language is the coin of the realm in the modern entertainment industry. That wasn’t the offense. A&E reacted because Robertson advocated for the importance of the traditional family for building healthy and stable societies. Our friend Rick Pearcey has written a piece analyzing this eruption of the culture wars in popular media in the provactively titled article at the Pearcey Report “Quack! Earth Needs Men Who Stare at Ducks and Women.”

The struggle between Europe and North America and within the United States between the so-called red and blue states manifests itself at a pragmatic level. Politically, Democrats and Republicans quarrel about racial tensions between black and white, or tensions between the sexes, or between young and old, Christians and Jews, Protestants and Catholics. These manifestations are real, but we must not be fooled into thinking that they are the root of the problem. These are merely symptoms of a deeper issue.

The root of the conflict is moral and metaphysical. It is a battle of sacred belief systems, worldviews, ideologies. It is different theologies – beliefs of Theists vs. those of Atheists. These different beliefs produce different moral visions. They are competing fundamental assumptions about life and the nature of the universe. They are two radically different ways of understanding reality. These differences between paradigms and principles open a wide schism that permeates all of life. This gap shows up in our answers the questions of the day, in how we form the institutions and structures of our society.

The way our nation’s leaders perform in Washington reflects the country, and culture, they represent. Moral relativism and postmodern disregard of truth has been promoted by academia for decades; sometimes it seems that the best students of that thinking live in Washington. We live in a time when laws and rules are defined by the whims of those in power. “Messaging” is paramount; never mind how far removed the message is from reality.

Perhaps we should adopt the tag line of The Federalist: “Be lovers of freedom and anxious for the fray.”

Join the fight. Speak the truth in love. Bring beauty in the midst of mediocrity and crassness. Be good and do good.

-          Darrow Miller

 

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Missionaries: What Good are They?

missionaries fostered democracryWhat happens when missionaries show up? What do missionaries really accomplish?

More than they generally get credit for. That’s the conclusion of some PhD research by Robert Woodberry on the impact of Protestant missionaries.

Most people would likely credit missionaries for achieving broader knowledge of the gospel, more Bibles in more languages, church growth, stronger families. Of course. And much more. Woodberry’s findings transcend these conventional results. His work shows that in areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past, the following are more likely to be true today:

  • Higher economic development
  • Generally better health
  • Lower infant mortality
  • Lower levels of corruption
  • Higher literacy levels
  • Higher educational attainment (especially for women)
  • Higher levels of membership in nongovernmental associations

Woodberry’s research demonstrates what Jesus himself declared, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” John 10:10. The data—the actual numbers—show that Protestant missionaries create a climate for the development of democracy. Few missionaries would be surprised, maybe. Many would fail even to be impressed with these numbers. “Where’s the news in that?” they might ask. But for secularists, numbers are reality. As my colleague, Dwight Vogt, points out, “statistical analysis is the only source of truth for the secular social scientist.”

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem

Dwight also pointed out a connection to an unlikely story of a few years ago. Matthew Parris, a UK-based journalist and professing atheist, wrote about his observation of the connection between missionaries and development in Africa. Parris’s unforgettable title? As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God. The article’s subtitle takes it further:  Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset. Go here to access the article.

Readers of this blog will be interested in two further observations from Woodberry. The actions of Protestant missionaries that created the conditions for democratization included “servant love” for one’s neighbor and a “Biblical worldview (vision).” DNA friends will recognize these themes as central to our beliefs and woven all through our material. Here are two quick examples: Servanthood: The Vocation of Every Christian and The METAPHYSICAL CAPITAL of a Judeo-Christian Worldview.

As to the first, love for our neighbor, Woodberry quotes Joel Carpenter, director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin College. “Few [missionaries] were in any systemic way social reformers. I think they were first and foremost people who loved other people. They [cared] about other people, saw that they’d been wronged, and [wanted] to make it right.”

So simple. So profound.

From there he goes on to the second, the impact of a Biblical worldview, AKA a “Protestant vision.”

While missionaries came to colonial reform through the backdoor, mass literacy and mass education were more deliberate projects—the consequence of a Protestant vision that knocked down old hierarchies in the name of “the priesthood of all believers.” If all souls were equal before God, everyone would need to access the Bible in their own language. They would also need to know how to read. [So] they focused on teaching people to read. [our emphasis]

Kudos to Woodberry!

Go here to read the article in Christianity Today

-          Gary Brumbelow

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Artists Speaking to the Culture

If you regularly read Darrow Miller and Friends, you may have noticed that I have a heart for Christians in the arts. Especially I want to encourage young artists. I aspire to be a clarion call to raise up artists as balladeers to speak prophetically to culture. My post  A Call for  Balladeers sums up much of this thinking.

Paulo Ritzer teaches artists to speak to the cultureAbout six years ago I spoke of these things at a conference for educators in Brazil. A young guitarist, Paulo Ritzer, heard me. At the time he was getting little support from the church for the things God had put on his heart. God used my words of encouragement to impact his life. Paulo went on to found a center for the study of art and worldview called L’Abrarte.

Recently I traveled to Natal, Brazil, and had the privilege of seeing Paulo, meeting his wife, Ada, and enjoying an evening with some of the leaders of L’Abrarte. This small community of thoughtful, activist Brazilian artists was inspired by Francis Schaeffer and Schaeffer’s good friend, the famous Dutch Art Historian, Dr. Hans Rookmaaker.

The word L’Abrarte combines L’Abri (the Shelter) and the Portuguese word for art, arte. The term is also an acronym for The Rookmaaker Association for Studies in Art and Worldview. Paulo describes L’Abrarte as:

 [A] Christian entity civilian, nonprofit organization that promotes and supports programs and initiatives aimed at research and development of creative, artistic, cultural, socio-educational and scientific aspects from the reflections and contributions from historian Art and thinker Hans Rookmaaker.

The Association has been developing educational work to encourage youth involvement through thematic retreats and seminars geared to the young, but also the training of teachers in the area of ​​public art and music. In this perspective, we discuss and disseminate analysis tools of art, culture and worldviews in order to equip Christians to act decisively in the transformation of the public sphere through the values ​​of the Kingdom.

L’Abrarte provides a multifaceted engagement with the community. They offer courses and workshops in singing, instruments, children’s musicals, drawing, painting, theater, and dance. They feature a series of programs on Art and Citizenship that explore the place of the arts and artists in society.

l'abarte teaches artistsL’Abrarte also offers guided studies and conferences in the works of Francis Schaeffer and Hans Rookmaaker. In addition they offer the community “themed retreats” that cover such subjects as beauty, faith in crises, spiritual formation, and art. They have a structured program SAFEC (Seminar in Christian Art and Faith) that deals with the intersection of art and the Christian faith. They also have a living galleria called Space L’ Abrarte where artists can gather for discussion and sharing their work and compositions.

More information is available at the L’Abrarte website and at Paulo’s Facebook page.

In past posts we have highlighted other balladeers. Mona and Jeremiah Enna and their Culture House and Storling Dance Theater are highlighted here. Our Indian friend Stefan Eicher’s work is introduced here.

May the Lord increase the tribe of young Christian artists who understand the significance of the Biblical worldview and want to speak prophetically to their cultures.

-          Darrow

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Imagination, the Human Capacity for Godlike Creativity

Imagination is one of the Creator’s most valuable gifts to his human creatures. When imagination is nurtured, we flourish. When it is suppressed, we languish.

My friend, Ana, spent several days sitting and talking with a group of young teen girls.

I asked them, “Do you have dreams?” “We stop dreaming when primary school is over,” they told me. “To continue our education we would have to leave the village. We never leave to discover what is outside, so this is our destiny.” I didn’t know if I should cry or shout. I was so angry to see the devil blinding the minds of these young girls, deceiving them to believe that there is no purpose to life—except watching for the sun to rise and waiting to die.”  Her haunting question: “How can anyone live this way?”

Imagination by Warner Highsmith

Some cultures crush the wonder and dreaming out of their children. Some people choose to live solely in the present, without joyful celebration of the past or hopeful dreams of the future.  As the Proverbs puts it, “Where there is no vision, the people perish!”  This is true for individuals and for entire societies.

Dreaming is a universal capacity because all human beings are made in the image of the God who dreams. But dreaming is clearly not a universal practice because many cultures do not encourage people to dream.

In his 12/23/2013 blog post, “Imagine That”  writer Mike Metzger says that “the path to reasonable faith begins with widening the imagination.”  Here’s another way to say that: An enlarged imagination is the path to a new future.

We were made to use our imagination to rule the earth.

Reading Metzger’s piece, I reflected on the relationship between our imago Dei nature and our own human imagination.

Genesis reveals (see 1:26-27; 5:2; 9:6) that man is made in the image of God. The New Bible Dictionary states: “Man is the corporeal image of the incorporeal God. Man’s role as ruler of the earth is established by his creation as God’s image (1:27). Elsewhere in the ancient Near East it is usually the king who is said to be the image of God, but in Gn. 1 it is mankind as a whole that is God’s vizier and representative.”

Wonder of wonders: we are all “royalty.” We are all vice-regents of God, created in his image, created to use our imaginations to rule over the earth. In faith, we dream dreams and then, like the Primary Creator, we–the secondary creators–bring the dreams of our imagination into reality by writing stories, designing buildings, creating meals, composing music, planting gardens and vineyards. When we expand the horizons of our minds we expand the horizons of creation.

Not every worldview allows for imagination. Animists are bound by a universe of chaos, without order. They may understand the concept of myth and mystery, but lack the concept of an ordered mind to effectively create in the external world. In contrast, the atheist’s mind is bound by nature and focused on material things; little place is given to the imagination.

The ultimate imagination and source of our ability to dream is our Creator God. God’s imagination and the creation of the universe involved:

-          Forming an intention – Conceiving of the universe – the role of the Father

-          Articulating an intention – Speaking – the role of the Son

-          Actualizing an intention – Willing – the role of the Holy Spirit

Human imagination creates art and solves problems. Consider what life would be like without Narnia or the music of Beethoven. I remember reading C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles for the first time in my mid-twenties. I was enchanted by entering this world of Lewis’ imagination. My initial reaction was two-fold: “How come, in 25 years, I have never been exposed to Narnia? … I have never lived until now!”

Hebrews 11:3, By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. The imagination allows us to see the invisible God behind the visible universe. We can imagine how a virgin could conceive, that the blood of the lamb makes me as white as snow. We can sincerely pray Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Faith is acting on the basis of the intellect, where our understanding is enabled by a sanctified imagination.

Just as there is no sacred secular divide (see Scott Allen’s excellent book Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide) there is no imagination/reason dualism.

As a young man, C.S. Lewis was caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” This was the well-known naturalist dilemma. The naturalists assume the universe is merely “natural” – one giant machine. The non-material or spiritual realm does not, by limits of the paradigm, exist. Lewis was caught between the rock of his atheistic-naturalistic assumptions and the hard place of his own imago Dei wiring for the beautiful, for his love for ideas, for literature and art. A mechanistic universe has no place for any of these things. His faith in his naturalistic assumptions fed his mind, but denied his heart.

Nancy Pearcey, writing in her highly recommended book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity says, “What Lewis thought was real was the lower-story world of scientific materialism–but it was ‘grim and meaningless.’ What he wished were real was the upper-story world of myth and meaning – but he believed it to be only ‘imaginary.’” Nancy goes on to diagram this split this way:

ROMANTICISM

Beautiful but Imaginary

———————————————-

REASON

Repulsive but Real

Nancy goes on to quote Lewis on the moment he came to see that in Christ and Christianity there is no split either between the sacred and secular nor between reason and romanticism:

The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens – at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate.

Lewis discovered in Christ and the Judeo-Christian worldview that there is a healing for the war between the mind and the heart. There is no dualistic split. We live in a universe that is comprehensive and wholistic. The gospel is “true myth.”

Similarly, C.S. Lewis’ good friend and the author of the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien coined the word eucatastrophe, a sudden and favorable resolution of events in a story, a happy ending to describe the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He describes the difference between the gospel and a fairy-story is that the gospel is true-story:   ”This story has entered History and the primary world.”

The fantasy everyone wants to be true IS true – is history; the virgin shall conceive! Tolkien writes

The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history….The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits.

Because “the virgin shall conceive,” the Dying God has come, the dead have been raised, and the kingdom is coming … let us live in great joy!

-          Darrow Miller

 

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Radical Feminism and the End of the Family: Mission Accomplished?

family the target of radical feminism

The nuclear family must be destroyed … Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process,” says author and woman’s rights activist Linda Gordon.

She is joined in that view by author and feminist activist Robin Morgan: ”We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.”

Radical feminists regard the family as a barrier to women’s success. They thus set out to free women by weakening or destroying the family.  Their target was the traditional family. What some have called the natural family. By either name, we’re talking about the first human institution, engraved by God in human nature. The family is the basic building block of society. It is the voluntary, lifelong, covenantal union of a man and a woman and the offspring which are normally the fruit of that union. Marriage is patterned after the cosmic archetype: Christ and the church.

The World Congress on Families describes the benefits of the natural family:

  • Satisfying the longings of the human heart to give and receive love;
  • Welcoming and ensuring the full physical and emotional development of children;
  • Sharing a home that serves as the center for social, educational, economic, and spiritual life;
  • Building strong bonds among the generations to pass on a way of life that has transcendent meaning;
  • Extending a hand of compassion to individuals and households whose circumstances fall short of these ideals.

The family structure is weakening. In the eyes of society, the definition of family is changing. Today there are a variety of “family” models: blended, single parent, same-sex parented, childless-by-choice, et al. It’s politically correct to promote non-traditional families. But if the natural family model was what God designed for human beings, its destruction will bring profound consequences.

The recently published Schriever Report on women and poverty reveals the consequences of radical feminism’s deconstruction of the family (as reported by The American Thinker):

  • Nearly 70% of single mothers and their children are either living in poverty or teetering on the edge.
  • Women are two-thirds of the primary and co-breadwinners in American families.
  • Women are nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers.
  • 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income.
  • Out of a “groundbreaking bipartisan poll” of 3,500 adults only 37% of the women polled living on or over the brink of poverty were married.
  • Only a fifth of our families have a male breadwinner and a female homemaker.
  • More than half of babies born to women under 30 are born to unmarried women.
  • Women are three times more likely to be raising a family on their own, without a partner.

In her article “Feminists Shoot Themselves in the Foot,” M. Catharine Evans writes of the combined impact of fifty years of radical feminism (intended) and the war on poverty (unintended): “Spending over $20 trillion to date on government handouts to the poor in areas such as health, education, and job training have failed miserably with regard to lifting them out of poverty. Nevertheless, breaking down family structures has been successful.”

Many people deny that ideas matter. They are wrong. Richard Weaver captured the actual truth in his famous dictum, “Ideas have consequences!”

If we affirm that God created the universe with a certain order, and that this order includes the father-mother-child family, it follows that abandoning this order will trigger consequences for individuals, communities, and nations.

If a people or nation “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18) and seek to redefine the family, unintended consequences will result. Radical feminism has largely achieved its goal: the destruction of the natural family. The consequences abound in the painful reality of broken families, shattered lives, and growing poverty.

Darrow Miller writes about the family- Darrow Miller

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What GDP Could a Free Nigeria Generate?

GDP, believe it or not, is an indicator of a nation’s progress in discipleship.

I enjoy reading Mindy Belz’s daily global news update called “Globe Trot” at World Magazine online. In a recent post she provided a link to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article by Adam Belz that compared the relationship of the GDP of the United States to that of other nations in the world. The GDP – Gross Domestic Product – represents the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country during a year.

Adam’s article describes the economic contribution the US makes to the world by comparing the GDP of individual states to the GDP of the nations of the world. He developed the graphic below to picture this comparison. Adam’s map pairs states in the US with countries of similar GDP … Russia and California, for example.

GDP map comparison

Adam references similar maps developed by others who have reflected on the United States as a global powerhouse.

It is striking to think of the capacity of free people to create wealth. When you consider how many people live in a country versus how many live in the corresponding state, the potential of the world’s people to create wealth is staggering. Unleashed, it could erase poverty.

For instance the six million people in Missouri produce approximately the same GDP as the 174.5 million people of Nigeria. Consider the natural and human resources in Nigeria. What if the people of Nigeria had the metaphysical capital of a biblical worldview and the corresponding free markets, property rights, and rule of law that have been the hallmark of the United States? What would be the condition of the Nigerian people? What contribution would they be making to the world?

Go here to read a great treatment by Armstrong Williams of Nigeria’s “limitless promise and potential.”

-          Darrow Miller

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The Mother as the First Teacher

A mother is the first teacher of every exemplar and every scoundrel.

Too often we leave our children’s education to television, video games, the state, or their peers. Too many parents have abdicated their responsibility, largely because they no longer have a God-ordained vision for the family and for education.

God has entrusted parents with the responsibility to educate their children (Deut 11:18-21: Proverbs 1:8; 22:6; 23:22; 31:1). While this responsibility may be delegated, to some degree, by the parent to a teacher, a tutor, the church or even the state, it is still the parent’s ultimate concern.

While a complete education requires both the maternal and paternal dimensions, the “queen” of the household is the mother. Her role is captured in the Greek term oikodespoteo, to “guide the house, rule a household, manage family affairs.” Thus we read in 1Timothy 5:14, So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander (ESV). We see a robust example of this view of womanhood in Proverbs 31. She is the queen of the manor. Her home is her primary sphere of influence; her secondary sphere is the market place and public square.

How important that she succeed in preparing the next generation of a nation’s leaders! Yet much is said today that belittles women, said by men (sexism) and by women (feminism).

Writing 150 years ago, Lydia Sigourney masterfully captures this truth.

Is it not important that the sex to whom Nature has intrusted the moulding of the whole mass of mind in its first formation should be acquainted with the structure and development of the mind? – that they who are to nurture the future rulers of a prosperous people, should be able to demonstrate from the broad annals of history, the value of just laws, and the duty of subordination – the blessings which they inherit, and the danger of their abuse? Is it not requisite that they on whose bosom the infant heart must be cherished should be vigilant to watch the earliest pulsations of good and evil? – that they who are commissioned to light the lamp of the soul, should know how to feed it with pure oil? – that they in whose hand is the welfare of beings never to die, should be fitted to perform the work, and earn the plaudits of heaven?

Lydia Sigourney

mother kissing babyFor her task, the woman herself must be wise and knowledgeable. She must have the best liberal education (that is, broad, interdisciplinary, and integrated) so that she may teach her children, among other things, music and art, history, math, science, and communication – reading, writing, rhetoric.

Her need is to understand the design of a child’s mind and heart, how these grow and prosper for knowledge and virtue, to prepare the future citizens of a free nation. If a nation is to be free, her citizens must be knowledgeable and wise. To be ignorant and foolish is to become poor and enslaved. The mother will direct the child’s first steps on a journey either toward freedom or toward bondage.

A nation that does not learn from history is bound to repeat it. History teaches the importance and blessing of just laws, and the ravages of corrupt laws. It teaches the necessity of abiding by the law and the folly of lawlessness. Thus the mother is to be versed in history, to be able to identify the root of corruption and the nature of just societies.

It is the mother’s heart that the infant first hears. The mother’s eyes provide the child its first window into another soul. As the mother cherishes and nurtures the child at her breast, she is the first to perceive the direction of the child’s heart and the first to instruct it.

The mother not only gives the child life—or as Lydia Sigourney so eloquently writes, “lights the lamp of the soul”—she should know how to nourish the soul and prepare the child for life. The mother holds in her arms no mere mortal; she holds the life of one bearing the image of God, one who will impact the direction of history and live in eternity.

-          Darrow Miller

This post is the sixth in a series on maternal feminism.

 

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