Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Admirable Qualities of the Existentialist

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

What I have appreciated about the thoughts of Camus is honesty and tenacity. The fight of Camus is noteworthy. When one struggles against all odds- there is either a faith of victory or a despair of certain defeat.

Camus has no hope at all and finds energy in the freedom to keep swinging. The glory is to fight like hell- even when victory is long gone.

The Christian needs to learn from that. They fight with energy with defeat inevitable- sadly flinging away as a last spittle of defiance. They attack injustice and still love life, knowing that all is absurd.

How much more should we fight- and fling- and attack, and love with a hope that God is going to be victorious. If heaven is rest- are we living in such a way to actually need it?

Sadly, the American church (including this blogger) has about as much need of an eternal rest as a narcoleptic has need of Sominex.

Lord, forgive me...I need Your help!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Mesmerized by "Camus and the Minister"

I am reading a book by Howard Mumma called "Albert Camus and the Minister". It is one of the more interesting books I have ever read. In the book, Mumma, an American Methodist minister, recounts dialogues he had with famous existentialists, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre over a period of many years while he was pastor at the American Church in Paris beginning in the 1950's.

It is an incredible and credible exploration of the questions of life and how Christianity and Existentialism intersect and diverge in amazing ways. It is a beautiful presentation of these competing world views told by riveting dialogue and amazingly clear details!

Quotes from Camus:

"I am searching for something I do not have, something I am not sure I can even define"

" I am a disillusioned and exhausted man. I have lost faith, lost hope, ever since the rise of Hitler. Is it any wonder that, at my age, I am looking for something to believe in?"

"You know, I have made a great deal of money because I have been somehow able to articulate man's disillusionment with man... I spoke of the meaningless and uncertainty... this is the root of my despair."

"When I first met Jean-Paul Sartre, I agreed we should leave God out of the discussion, although I have always left open the possibility...but I now find (Sarte's) attempt to find meaning in life lacking. I am no longer satisfied with his answers."

As I continue in the book I find it fascinating to see the honesty and educational fire of Camus. I am less than impressed with Sartre. He seems fully pleased with his philosophy and unwilling to question it. Right now, Camus is teachable and Sartre is hardened in his pride. Camus is shy and Sartre loves the limelight.

The minister Mumma is equally impressive and up to the task. Ultimately, his liberal view of God's word will leave him powerless to offer real change to either. At some point, all the arguments must move to the heart and only God's Spirit can remove the veil.

To be continued......

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reaction to Albert Camus, "The Stranger"

Just finished a fascinating book by the famous existentialist, Camus. Though many would label him differently.

I had cut and paste help on this summary.

The main theme of The Stranger is the absurdity of life. Mersault is a common, ordinary man who works in Algiers performing routine and monotonous tasks. Because he is a bachelor who lives by himself, he has few demands placed on his free time. He is accustomed to doing what he wants, when he wants. Amazingly, he has difficulty entertaining himself, and the weekends tend to drag on for him in boredom. It is clear Mersault has done nothing significant in his life, and he states several times in the book that he had never received much attention before his murder trial.

When the book opens, Mersault has just learned that has mother has passed away. He had previously sent her to live in Marengo at a government run Home for the Aged, for he felt he could not support her at his apartment and believed that she needed someone to look after her during the day, while he was at work. When he receives the news of her passing, he does not seem upset by her death. With no emotion, he arranges for time off from work, goes to borrow a tie and mourning band from a friend, and eats a casual lunch. Once he arrives in Marengo, he shows no emotion and refuses to view her body. At the funeral, he does not shed a tear and is more concerned about the heat than the loss of his mother. He is also anxious to get back home.

As the book continues, Mersault lives each day without much direction or purpose. He has a meaningless liaison with Marie. Consents to marry her without admitting love or desire. Gets mixed up with a pimp named Raymond who abuses one of his girls. In a senseless act, Mersault kills an Arab who had injured Raymond- shooting him 5 times!

The actions of Mersault are clearly absurd - from his casual affair with Marie on the day after his mother’s funeral, to his friendship with a violent pimp, to his needless murder of an Arab man whom he does not even know. The trial of Mersault, however, is even more absurd. During the pre-trial hearings, the magistrate badgers Mersault with questions about religion. When Mersault indicates that he does not believe in God, the magistrate waves a silver crucifix in his face and calls him the "antichrist." During the trial, the judge and the prosecuting attorney seem more interested in the fact that Mersault did not grieve at his mother’s funeral and made love to Marie on the day after the funeral than the fact that he has killed a man. Several witnesses are called to prove his callousness nature. Since Mersault is totally honest and terribly na├»ve, he cannot slant the truth in his direction. He states that he did not cry over his mother’s death because he has always expected old people to die. When he is questioned about why he fired four shots into a dead body, he can give no explanation, but admits that he has no remorse over killing an Arab who pulled a knife. Unfortunately, Mersault’s court appointed attorney is not very good and makes no attempt to free his client by saying he killed in self-defense. As a result, the jury is totally swayed against Mersault, this stranger who killed a stranger. They convict him of cold-blooded murder and sentence him to execution by guillotine. It is an absurd sentence for a man who truly does not view himself as a criminal.

After Mersault is sentenced, the absurdity continues. Mersault refuses on several occasions to see the chaplain. Eventually, the man bursts into his cell and tries to persuade Mersault to confess his guilt and beg for forgiveness. The truthful Mersault, of course, refuses. When the chaplain begins praying for him, Mersault screams and grabs him by the neck. Three jailers have to rescue the chaplain. After the chaplain’s visit, Mersault has a new sense of peace and calm. He accepts his death sentence as part of the absurdity of life.

The amazing thing about this book is that I am just like Mersault. Without my relationship to Christ, I find myself heartless and cold. One of his 'sins' is to sit back and never act- He just lets life happen- much like I tend to do,

The Lord has truly saved me- I feel love for my family, though my default mode is machine like numbness.

The book was chilling, because I see what I could have become.

I am waiting on a book called - "Camus and the Minister" which is reported to be an assertion that Camus gave his life to Christ. Will read it with interest. The cold defiance wears on you- It is either give in to God and meaning or face suicide.

Thank you Jesus, for breaking down my rebellion and overcoming my callousness.

Tears and meaning- I was saved- and it was... from myself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Good Start to 06

Been pleased...a whole different far.

Started a new Sunday School class - we had about 60 in attendance.

Players have been working out well- good attitudes and work ethic.

I have been exercising and feel good!

I have been praying and already see some benefit of it!

Lord, may this be a sweet year to Your glory!

Friday, January 06, 2006

A New Year

Well here I am- 5:39 AM

I'm finally getting settled on New Year's goals.

2006 needs to be a year of prayer and physical discipline. I have been working out since the 1st of December and the initial results have been good.

My weight is a big problem right now. I say that every year in Jan like billions of other people- but I have to make strides here.

I need God's help. Food is a crutch to my stress.

Now for the prayer part - I have a list and just need to do it. One of the big desires is to pray with my wife.

Been a nice start!