Wednesday, November 21, 2012

US Thanksgiving/Philosophies & Worldviews

Houston, Texas-trekearth















As a Canadian I have been thankful for many years to be neighbours with the United States of America. It has been a leader in NATO in assisting with the military protection of Canada, which in my opinion does not have a sufficient military, but even if it did, Canada has a small population relative to land area. As well, the United States has provided Christianity and theology throughout the world on a very significant basis. Not all of it beneficial, but enough of it is. Those are just two reasons.

Some other reflections on the United States according to the official 'standards' of this blog:

Arizona

It is good to have family here. Also good to visit loved ones. The weather there is much warmer than in Greater Vancouver but I did manage to walk the dog in a rain storm.

California

I have been watching Storage Wars as a relief from computer work and blogging. I also enjoy visiting California and I am fortunate to have friends both in Northern and Southern California. Really one of the nicest places in the world overall. I have never heard freeway traffic as loud as Southern California freeway traffic. I found the people there quite friendly overall as well.

Our family went to Disneyland when I was little and my brother and I bought Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon Masks respectively. I hated how mine smelt. My brother wore the Phantom mask I think and snuck-up behind me at lunch and yelled at me from back to front. My lunch, likely a burger and fries, knowing me at the time with my less international diet, went everywhere.

























Florida

I have been there twice and I like the fact I can 'drive' there, sort of like the United Kingdom, but on the right side of the road. There is an interesting passing technique by some pick-up trucks on the freeway though, that is to 'gun it' onto the grass and then head back onto the freeway. At least that is what I saw driving across the State several times. I found the people generally friendly there.

British Columbia: Pull over on the side of the road for a 'break' not an issue bears and cougars few and far between.

Florida: Pull over on the side of the road for a break, a real huge issue. I could hear and smell the ecology while driving at 80 miles an hour. No unofficial stops for me...

Welcome to the tropics or near.

Kansas

I have never visited. Made famous by the 1939 film 'The Wizard of OZ', not to be confused with the 1978 film 'The Wiz' with Michael Jackson...














Louisiana

Never visited. Seems to have a good market on reality television right now. Those shows are so theatrical I think a 'gator' and his family should have their own reality television show.

Michigan

I have never been there but I can distinctly remember as a teenager flying over it. I also remember the Michigan Stags of the World Hockey Association that I viewed live as a child. No doubt the League did not have a first-rate marketing department.























Minnesota

The State I have been to several times, but cannot get out of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport.



















Nevada

As documented on this blog in more than one previous post, not my favourite State. Several years ago while I was working on my BA we (Uncle Chuck, my brother and others) took a trip to Nevada for a hockey draft. There was the steakhouse owner that posted a sign that washrooms were for customer/patrons use only. Uncle Chuck and I were desperate not to use a bush, as in Nevada, unlike here in British Columbia, there was not many, so we checked out the menu, saw it was too expensive and used the washroom facility.

I took the quick option and Uncle Chuck the unwise option.

The crazed steakhouse owner chased us out of the restaurant stating he would call the police. I stated that he could go ahead as we were from Canada, I would have of course played dumb had we been apprehended by 'Deputy Dawg' or like, and I am good at that, at times.

Good thing it was not Texas or the steakhouse owner might have had a shotgun.

Also in Reno, because the hockey draft was not in Las Vegas which it should have been had the people voting wanted a life, Uncle Chuck and I simply wanted to ask these two, likely University girls for directions and the closer we got to them the faster they walked away. Then a male yelled out of a likely dorm window, 'Go get them guys!', in a humourous fashion which really 'helped', as in we should chase down the ladies.  So, we stopped. Americans are generally friendly but I found several  people in Nevada to be really uptight and unfriendly generally at that time.

I have returned to the State since then...a short stint at Las Vegas airport/McCaran International Airport.























New Jersey

I landed at Newark Airport once and its buildings and architectural styles reminded me of the old 1970s shows I watched on television...

Not just Sesame Street, but some actual serious shows, documentaries and like.

New York

It was good to see the Buffalo Sabres host the Atlanta Thrashers, now Winnipeg Jets, with a friend, and we also saw Niagara Falls on both sides of the border. It was good to spend half a week in New York City via Newark with a friend. The one taxi driver did not like the tip and so he refused to take our luggage out of his cab. I thought, 'Welcome to New York City'.

I had a briefcase with me, but this was post 911 and these cases were now a no-no, so as my friend and I attempted to go to the New York Yankees game the attendant stated something along the lines of  'Are you blind, take off your sunglasses, no briefcases allowed!'. I stated that I was from Canada and he chilled and said I could walk across the street and store my case for a fee. 'Welcome to New York City'.


















Worldviews

This type of holiday, although not one in Canada is one from a Christian perspective to perhaps reflect on differences in worldviews. In my MPhil from 2003 I discussed the concept of Christianity and political philosophies and this was also mentioned in a post on my other blog in 2008.

MPhil 2003

DrRNM 2008

In McGrath’s second chapter entitled Blaming God he mentions some prominent modern twentieth century philosophies and discusses some of the results of these world-views. He noted that atheistic communism and western liberalism had failed to deal with the harsh realities of life that had taken place in the twentieth century, particularly during World War II. Communism and liberalism removed God from the equation, however, to McGrath, it caused more evil to take place. He stated: "Belief in God is a vital restraining factor. It curbs human evil by stressing God’s condemnation of those who inflict suffering on others." McGrath (1992: 11).

McGrath believed that neither communism nor western liberalism had eliminated suffering, and thus their disbelief in God was not on strong intellectual footing. To him, the great suffering which occurred in the twentieth century indicated there was something wrong with human nature, and that many people who attempted to blame God for those woes should, instead, have looked at world philosophies such as communism and western liberalism which ignored God. McGrath stated these philosophies that overlooked God, at the same time, overlooked his love. He noted: "Occasions of history are stained by the tears of our God who was working to bring about the day when ‘there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.’ (Revelation 21:4)." McGrath (1992: 14). I am in agreement with McGrath that the sinfulness of human nature was overlooked by communist states such as the Soviet Union. In fact, the utopia of socialism actually led to the Soviet Union committing acts of violence in great numbers against their own citizens and those of other nations.

Communism is faulty in that it depends on the state forcing equality among people. This, however, does not end the evil of poverty, for example, but simply takes away initiative from people to advance themselves economically, and gives economic and political power to a select few government and military officials. At the same time, tyranny takes place as these select few must strongly enforce the equality that they see as necessary in order for the communist state to advance. Christianity, on the other hand, favours shared equality. By this I mean people willingly sharing some, and sometimes all, of what they possess. But the idea is not that a state or ruling counsel should dictate this, but that it should be done willingly in love. With this world-view, people have the freedom to willingly help others. Now with western liberalism, I think it can be argued that, unlike Communism, it does have some major social benefits because it still allows for individualistic human thought which can lead to creativity. When this is taken too far, however, it can be seen that without God, human creativity can only solve few problems because human beings are fallen and imperfect and will still commit evil acts. A person who does not believe in the God and follow Him, can make social progress, but this will be limited because social ethics can make him/her moral but cannot make him/her spiritual as in believing in and following Jesus Christ. A spiritual person seeking God’s guidance should, at least, be theoretically more open to loving and caring for others, to show other people the love God has shown each of them. God’s love being shown within someone should take them beyond morality to a personal concern about the spiritual state of others.

To play devil’s advocate, a critic could claim that Christianity has not solved suffering any better than Communism or especially western liberalism; however, I think McGrath is correct. A belief in God in society and better yet a spiritual relationship with Christ leads to the tempering of evil in a nation and the world. Christianity’s ultimate answer to evil comes through revelation, but at least that has historical evidence of Scripture behind it. Christians are disobedient to God, just as nonbelievers are, and this is probably part of the reason Christianity has not made more social progress. But I still agree with McGrath that Christ’s atoning work and resurrection is the only ultimate answer that remedies evil. This work has, of course, not been completely culminated, but I think the Scriptural evidence supports the idea that Christ will return to restore his creation.

Western liberalism shares some of Christianity’s positive views on sharing and even love, but it depends too much on the goodness of humanity. The twentieth century demonstrates that social evolution in humankind is good, but always limited. This is part of the reason why the advanced, modern, western world still produced a nation like Nazi Germany. These people were cultured and socialized, but still spiritually blind.

MCGRATH, ALSITER. (1992) Suffering, London, Hodder and Stoughton Limited.

Putting these two articles together today one can be thankful, whether a Christian or non-Christian for the influence philosophically Christianity has had in a positive way in impacting Western culture. Not to dismiss the negative aspects of Christianity which are not ignored or by-passed on my blogs.

However, Christianity and Christians are not the main focus of the faith/philosophy rather it is God/Christ and atoning/resurrection work completed by Christ which is to be culminated with a restored humanity and universe (Revelation 21-22).

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