In this “Rebellion” series, I have attempted to show a handful of ways that man has pushed back against what I believe is intended for him. This rebellion isn’t just a rebellion of ideas, but a rebellion that leads to pain, objectification, relational separation, and death. While rebellion begins in the heart and is rationalized by the mind, these immaterial ideas have both immaterial and material consequences. To show that I am not grasping at straws here, and that ideology most certainly does produce action, I want to explore each area of rebellion I highlighted as seen in the real world.
Today, the notion of purpose grounded outside of oneself seems to be disappearing. Proclamations of “do whatever you want as long as it feels good to you,” “just believe in yourself,” and “whatever makes you happy,” abound. Purpose is no longer something one finds, but has become something one makes. But for as ignorant and superstitious as past cultures seem to our modern intellect, they understood much better than moderns that our purpose needs a grounding outside ourselves. In fact, it seems that we moderns, the ones who are embracing materialism in larger numbers, are the ones who are the fools. The notion that religion throws in an extra layer of complexity is an easy conclusion to make. But our predecessors recognized Occam's Razor before Occam did, and understood that the winner in a logical duel is not the one with the simplest answer, but rather the simplest adequate one. In this recognition, they understood that losing deity would mean losing explanation. To accept the answer of materialism was to accept a simple solution, but an inadequate one.
While the systems that were built to explain the external grounding in the past may seem very foolish to us today with their complex ideas, our society is more foolish in a number of ways since we defy philosophical grounding and logic altogether. While a Hebrew monotheist may have been fearfully superstitious, his fear that God would strike him dead made sense if that god existed. On materialism, while actions of nature may be explained through cause and effect without a direct link to God, philosophies of life as we intuitively know them end up being incoherent without a creator (e.g. free will, love, purpose, etc). Materialists laugh at ancients for believing in a god, but the ancients can laugh at the materialist for believing anything at all. The ancients may have been wrong, but they could live consistently. The materialists may be right, but find that in so being, they cannot live. For the sake of this discussion, I will be focusing on the incoherence of purpose on materialism.
And the same, I imagine, happens with beauty. Where one beholds something that is truly beautiful - were any other to behold it with the same knowledge and without prejudice - they too would find it beautiful. The reason one may find something beautiful that another does not lies more in differing amounts of knowledge or in present bias than in subjectivity.
Most parents presumably want their children to not only live, but to enjoy life and cope with what it throws at them. As parents, you have to fit this overtime job into your full time job. It is a 16+ hour a day job of parenting. And if you have other commitments outside the home as well, your workload multiplies quickly. Days become monotonous lists of waking up to a cry, dressing, feeding, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, reading a book for the 100th time, enunciating a word for the 1000th time, changing more diapers, feeding again, laying the kids down for a nap, fitting in your house chores to the 90 minutes you have "free" during nap time, ending up only getting 60 minutes because your kid wakes up early, changing another diaper, feeding again, reading a book for the 101st time... And that's only half of the day.
But despite the monotony and exhaustion of the parenting endeavor, parenting is also a fun, energizing adventure. In many ways it is a return to one's own childhood. Do you remember how exciting it was to chew gum for the first time? I didn't, until I got to see Elin's excitement at her first experience chewing gum the other day. I never knew I had the capacity to become excited about such a common act as the chewing of gum - but I did. Do you remember how exciting it was to jump off the side of the pool and into the water - a whole two inches? I didn't, until Elin experienced this for the first time the other week. I was experiencing the excitement of a mundane action that had become new. Enriching your child's life makes the monotonous endeavor of parenting wonderful. Seeing their reactions to what we now feel are mundane experiences is pure joy - both for them and for you.
Only occasionally does one find an individual who can humble themselves to admit that they have failed morally. But even when someone can admit such a thing, it's almost always done with a false sort of humility. "Yes, I've failed morally. I mean, I'm sure I've told a lie before. But I've never killed anyone. I'm just as good as the next guy." Some are freely willing to admit moral failure, but minimize it as something that is an insignificant, relative, acceptable norm. These individuals didn't miss the mark, they just hit it imprecisely.
In a world where most sins are relegated to the realm of minor inconvenience and displeasure, many are confused and abhorred by the Christian notion of judgment. "The wages of sin is death? Even for a little lie?" The Old Testament seems to be an antiquated, barbaric system of "morality" that could have only been dreamed up by a nomadic, ignorant, ancient people group. How else could one explain the pettiness of its judicial system? While some of the confusion levied against the Old Testament theocracy certainly resonates with me, there is a larger game afoot. Our "enlightened" culture has not suddenly come into some esoteric understanding of what true morality is - we're still rationalizing our actions just like all the cultures before us. We're simply rationalizing morality under the guise of scientism.