Tag Archives: Reading

Gospel logic

18 May

God is able to make all grace abound to you that always having all sufficiency in all things, you may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Cor 9:8

I sometimes struggle with feeling as though I have SUFFICIENT time to do what I want to do – read during a period of the day when I am most alert.

So anytime I hear mention of the concepts of ENOUGH or SATISFACTION, which both can be described as contentment with the current supply, my ears perk up.

The other day, I was thinking about how  I might logically frame my feeling of sufficiency. Here is an initial attempt:

Premise 1: If I have all sufficiency in money, time and health, I am content

Premise 2: God has said that He is able to provide me with complete sufficiency

Conclusion: I should be content because I have access to my sufficiency by asking Him regularly for what I need

If the above reasoning is true, then why might I still struggle with a sense of lack or not enough?

Immediately the Holy Spirit reminded me of the PURPOSE for which God promises to provide me sufficiency.  Not primarily (so it might seem) simply to please myself, but instead to do the work that HE has planned for me to undertake.  In Ephesians, Paul reminds us that we are raised from the walking dead to being alive in Christ to undertake and carry out the works that God has planned for us.

For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10

(an aside, the Greek word for workmanship is poiema which some have rendered as ‘poetry’)

Okay – so when God gives us grace that translates into sufficiency, He says that it is not for our good pleasure (my reading), but to do the work that He has pre-ordained for us.

Hmm…is that disappointing?  Well, ça dépend! (that depends, as the French say).

Jesus said: My food/meat is to do the will of God who sent me and to accomplish His work – John 4:34  And food is the Greek word broma which means:

  • aliment which refreshes, delights or truly satisfies the mind

It seems that God is VERY efficient.  He has so created work both to accomplish His purposes AND to refresh me. I can be assured that looking to God the Father for what will ultimately satisfy me involves letting HIM assign and organize the work I am to do.

Left to please myself, I might think what I crave for restoration are the time and energy to READ.  But I am beginning to see that maybe I am not wise enough as the created being to know what is best for me.

I’m slowly learning to depend on my Maker to know what kind of high-grade octane nurtures, protects and optimizes my spiritual engine.

high octane

Logical Gal – ‘But it’s in the Bible!’

25 Mar

Polygamy in the bible

A discussion I overheard reminded me of a useful distinction, that of what is normative versus what is descriptive.  The term normative contains the concept of norms or prescribed ways of doing things.  Descriptive points to information, the way things are.

Logicians have a name for this error in reasoning, it’s called the Is-Ought Fallacy.  The thinking goes like this:

  • The way things ARE is the way they SHOULD be.

That’s just plain stupid. All one has to do is provide a counter-example.  Sex-trafficking is an unfortunate fact. Should that continue? Persecution of Christians is a fact….. genocide is a fact…bureaucratic waste is a fact.  Surely we don’t countenance those circumstances just because ‘that’s the way life is in 2015!’

An entire arena where these two concepts of what is descriptive (the way things are) versus what is normative (the way things ought to be) often gets muddled is the Bible.  Someone with an agenda of showing how the Bible is not relevant for contemporary culture might argue about one particular issue this way:

  • How come you’re so committed to marriage being a life-long covenant between one man and one woman?  Why even in the Bible some of those heroes of the faith were polygamous.  Didn’t the patriarch Abraham have multiply wives?  And what about his grandson Jacob?
  • Jesus didn’t own anything; therefore, neither should Christians!

If anything, the Bible unabashedly narrates shameful foibles, backsliding, and dysfunctional family sin.  And if that weren’t enough, we are served up accounts of evil kings and pompous religious leaders.  And on the other side, it IS true that the Bible gloriously showcases courageous acts of faith by men and women such as Gideon, Ruth, Paul and Mary as well as Jesus, the Son of God.  But does it necessarily follow that the Bible is telling us is ‘Be a Daniel, Be a Joshua, Be a Jesus’? Might the Bible through all these accounts be pointing to what God has done?  Yes, there are principles of righteous living that we can follow.  Nevertheless, we must be careful to sort out whom or what is being held up as part of the overall meta-narrative or grand story from actual commands that we are to follow.

A discerning reader will apply the correct lens when studying God’s Word.  Distinguishing whether a narrative is giving a rundown of what happened OR whether it is promoting a way of life or specific behavior is key.

Logical Gal advises – ‘Say what you mean and mean what you say!’

30 Jul

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.

-Henry Brooks Adams, historian (1838-1918)

Clear thinking

In our warped-speed culture, do you find that ANYONE takes the time to develop a thought or inquire into someone else’s ideas?  We ping off of sound bytes before we know what WE think or THEY think!

Over at my other blog – Posts about God’s Word, I mused on 27 July 2014 about how we rush around and drive ourselves nuts.   Technology was supposed to FREE us to pursue leisure, to be less crazy!

And what exactly is leisure?  Classically it has little to do with ‘fun activities’ filling our time off from work.  Instead it referred to the time set aside for contemplation of all that is TRUE, GOOD and BEAUTIFUL. Consider Josef Pieper’s observation about how we spend time and what it does to our soul!

“… the greatest menace to our capacity for contemplation is the incessant fabrication of tawdry empty stimuli which kill the receptivity of the soul.”
Josef Pieper, Happiness and Contemplation

**

Recently, one of our sons who has a baby and a small child forwarded on an essay based on a study about harm to the brain as an effect of spanking.  He asked for our thoughts.  You can access the report of the findings here:  Spanking Article

Because I was ‘rushed’, I just glanced at the on-line article in typical 21st century SCAN mode.  It ‘appeared’ to be condemning all forms of physical discipline.  When one is checking Facebook or Twitter or other social media sites that share essays, reports and articles, little attention is given to careful reading.  True to my experience, the article APPEARED to be anti-spanking.  I can see the harm I could have done by communicating verbally with another mom or grandmother what I had skimmed.

Read carefully

To my relief, when I took the time to read slowly and with consideration I found the author DID make a distinction between spanking that would be more like battery (think – striking a child with a belt) and the kind that is just a swift swat with a hand, making a clear point.

But the initial paragraph was crafted the way journalists are taught to write – stay broad and general at first, then go into more depth and details in subsequent paragraphs BECAUSE most people don’t read beyond the initial paragraph.

Here’s the rub – do any of us have time enough to read deeply and slowly, giving thought to what we are ingesting and connecting it to previously held and categorized knowledge ?

I, for one, don’t have that kind of time.  So just MAYBE the solution is to read less, but read well.  To speak less, but speak more thoughtfully.  To allocate my ‘free’ time to worthwhile learning.

Then just MAYBE my communications with others might grow more true, more sticky and less ‘thick’ or viscous as historian Henry Adams lamented (quote at beginning of blog post).  Then just MAYBE someone will say:  “That Maria – she often says what she means and means what she says!” 

Question: what about you?  What could you eliminate from your daily ‘intake’? (think: You Tube videos, newspapers, TV, blog posts, Instagram, Pinterest…..)

And as a gift to you, my way-too-busy reader, I have decided for the time-being to upload a post to this site just once a week. In the meantime, I intend to ask God how HE wants me to use the time He has allotted me.  

 

Logical Gal finds a ‘reasonable’ editorial in local paper

30 Dec

Finally, a well-articulated editorial in our local, one-sided newspaper!

I love to read the paper because it’s the source of discussion for my husband and me and I also find topics for this blog.

So last night I was pleased to find a guest editorialist present his position and then back it up with reasons.  Hence, he wrote a ‘reasonable’ essay.

His premise was clear:  let’s dump the Affordable Care Act and initiate better reform to the current health care system.  He then did what every logical Joe and Jane should do: he presented several reasons for his first premise (dumping the incoming system), followed by carefully described proposals supporting his second premise (reforming the old way).

I haven’t studied the issue enough to be able to have facts, figures and various scenarios at my finger tips, but the way he wrote made reading and thinking through the 2 arguments easy to follow.  I was then able to discuss the issues with my husband. It’s axiomatic that we can’t articulate what we don’t understand.

So as we close out 2013, let’s go into the New Year with at least one tool that will help us to read, think and communicate better.

When you read, look for the premises – the main points.  Ask yourself: What is the author trying to say?  I often underline such premises or propositions when I read to learn (as opposed to reading for diversion).  Once you have identified the premises, then look for the reasons.  Remember, that a premise often is a conclusion that has to be supported.  You don’t have to support everything you say; some things are accepted by all people.

The sun came out today – a fact that is accepted in your local area, or at least by meteorologists.

It’s better when the sun shines brightly – this is a hypothesis that needs shoring up with reasons.

If the writer or speaker offers NEITHER clear premises, NOR reasons for his beliefs, then don’t waste your time reading any further.

Conversely, when you yourself write, take the time to formulate a syllogism for each position you are offering. That simple 3- proposition formula will guide your writing so you’re less likely to forget a major point or ramble.

Here is an example of what could be the core of an essay:

Main point, what you’re arguing:

America’s health care system should be reformed, not replaced

Reasons or premises (P1, P2) to back your point, your conclusion:

P1: Retaining smaller, individual delivery systems (rather than replacing them with one massive federal program) can more easily adapt to particular needs of consumers

P2: Small but significant changes can make health care more affordable, more ‘tailorable’ and more responsive to individuals

‘They’ say that if you’re looking for a job, or for investors to support a new product, you should have a 30-second elevator speech ‘in your pocket’. This ‘commercial’ would explain either to the CEO or to a seed-fund Patron who happened to join your elevator why they should hire you/ invest in your idea.  And to do that, you need to know what you’re ‘selling’ and why.   We’re always selling ideas at the very minimum.  Let’s resolve to work out what we believe and why for those matters important to us.