Eyes of the Heart

“You’re just seeing things!”

How often have you heard that? We understand the fundamental question addressed here: Most people react to their perceptions in fairly simplistic ways. If you see an obstacle in your path, you would normally step around it unless it seemed more appropriate to push it out of the way. There is a wide range of moral discussion about whether and when it’s appropriate to avoid or push, and this is a separate question.

Perhaps you can see how this is connected to my fundamental assertion about Western (Aristotelian) epistemology. A Greek philosopher named Aristotle, whose ideas have had a powerful effect on our modern Western society, used that word “epistemology” a great deal in his teaching. Yes, I know that’s one of those hifalutin words, but it’s not pointless. It does apply to normal human life. While it can be abused like any other fancy term, it can also serve to condense the discussion by putting a simple label on a big issue. The academic discussion of epistemology seems focused on the question of, “What is true or truth?” Another formulation is, “What can we claim to know?” However, there is a motive behind that question itself that assumes we are somehow obliged to order our conduct in this world based on what’s real, or at least what’s important. In other words, it’s a question of, “What can we say we know, such that we can act on it?” There is an assumption that we have to justify our choices according to some universal standard. The underlying issue is really quite pragmatic.

And that brings us back to that quoted line up at the top. In our English-speaking society, we can find ourselves irritated by people who react to obstacles that we don’t see. Is it really there? And is it really an obstacle? In similar fashion, we can ask whether something is a threat we should avoid or flee.

But the whole issue rests on yet another fundamental question: What difference does it make to you what I see? That quoted line above assumes a moral accountability. It’s bad enough that our Western society struggles with matters of perception, but we have a serious problem with people poking their nose into the lives of others, as if we are all under some assumed accountability that gives people the authority to intrude. There is a powerful common assumption that some portion of our human existence is common property, that we owe something to the folks around us. And the problem is not whether we do, but what.

Here is the moral question of boundaries and dominion. There are two questions here: (1) Does you choice affect me and (2) should I be allowed to do something about it? We can’t deny that a lot things we do touch the lives of others, but whether they should endure it gracefully is separate matter. For example, we know that a child’s home life can impair their educational progress at school, but does that then hand some moral authority to educators to intrude in the home life of every child they educate? Most Westerners tolerate a very high level of intrusion under a wide range of assumptions about accountability to society at large.

This is the source for the structure and shape of Western government. We assume a certain kind of social accountability that opens the door to this kind of intrusion. The only question we ask is how much intrusion is correct in a given context, instead of addressing the fundamental question itself of whether it’s anyone’s business in the first place. Western social mythology draws the boundaries in the wrong place, and grants dominion to the wrong people. It’s not enough to claim being libertarian, because that still assumes a false morality of how much dominion.

And give this a thin veneer by falsely conflating “caring” with “control.” If you care enough, you will assert measures to force the object of your caring to do it your way? This is part of why most Westerners are so very confused about God and His authority. This is the source of that silly question about, “If God is all powerful (omnipotent) and all knowing (omniscient) and loving, why does He permit this?” The question assumes a logic that is all wrong in the first place. It’s where we get such petty declarations as, “That’s just mean!”

Don’t read this back into Scripture, or you’ll be the one who is “just seeing things.” The single biggest issue Westerners have with divine moral justice is tied up in understanding the basics of dominion and boundaries.

Biblical logic goes like this: God has created all things. He did so in accordance with His own character as a Person; His moral character is woven into the very structure and nature of reality. It works as He designed it. Justice is a matter of living consistently with that divine moral character. Not merely the performance, but the desire to please Him in feeling our way along from our blind fallen nature is the primary path of redemption. Not just in His written Word, but in Creation itself can we find that path, but it requires first engaging reality through the heart-mind. In living by our hearts, we will discover in any given context what it is that keeps us consistent with His moral character, and that brings Him glory. His glory in us is as much redemption as we can experience in this life.

Stop seeing it with your senses and your logic; that’s “just seeing things.” See it with your heart.

The Furnishings

I wanted to orient my regular readers to this display theme. There aren’t that many free ones offered once you run WordPress on your own service and I felt I could do more with this one. I was able to add the blue color bars on the sides and easily change the photo at the top. I will do that from time to time, taking advantage of the scenery from my long bike rides.

The default font has been changed so that it depends on what you have on your system and what you have selected for your browser. The order of preference is Palatino, Times and then any serif font.

If any of these posts have comments, they’ll be displayed as a little blue “balloon” on the upper right of the post heading. I’m not thrilled with the huge tag markers at at the bottom but it will take awhile for me to figure out how to change that. I’m not that good with PHP and these theme files are broken down into lots of tiny bits.

The private message input form on the lower right has been tested and works well. What happens is that anything you send that way is handled by the email system on the server itself and is dropped into the inbox for my SoulKiln admin address. I’m still working on a general webform for the rest of this website. However, comments work the same as they do for any WordPress site.

You can make suggestions and I’ll see what I can do. This is your new parish facility, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

By the way, I am told the server is physically located in Washington, DC, which is a major Internet hub with lots of fat pipes. We aren’t hiding from anyone so I’m not worried about government snooping.

Welcome

Come in and take a look. The place is nearly empty but as soon as more folks show up and speak their minds, this place will start to feel more like home. Now is a good time to start commenting on things you’d like to see.