Sunday, October 9, 2011

this body of flesh....

The sermon in church this morning focused on the body and the mind - how neither is bad, but we must use them correctly. This reminded me of an essay I wrote for Omnibus last year, and I decided to go ahead and post it.

2. Explain at least two major Christian doctrines that teach that the human body is a good and positive thing. Then compare and contrast Plato’s Phaedo (79c-82) and the apostle Paul’s Galatians 5:16-18 on the body. 



                Plato’s Socratic dialogue, Phaedo, presents an issue common to Greek philosophy. In sections 79c through 82, Socrates and his two friends, Simmias and Cebes, discuss the soul versus the body. Near the end of this excerpt, Socrates says that the “soul is a helpless prisoner, chained hand and foot to the body” until it takes up philosophy and is able to come to know the separation of the two.
                The basic conclusion of their discussion is that the body is debase and wretched, and that the only way to be truly separated from it is either through philosophy and wisdom, then eventually through death.
                However, Christianity seems to oppose this view. The body is said to be a temple, which is a wonderful thing (1 Corinthians 6:19). Two doctrines, or teachings, reflect these pretty obviously.
                When God first created the world, He chose to create the human body. Genesis 1:26-27 describes God doing just this. And not only is He simply creating Adam’s body, but He creates it in His own image. In a sense, God also has a body, and we look like Him. If God thought that a physical body was bad, then he wouldn’t have given one to us. Even when Christ came to earth, He took on a man’s body. If He thought that the skin we are in was evil, then wouldn’t he have just come as a Spirit alone?
 I think these two things, Creation and the Incarnation, show that the physical body of skin, bone, and muscle, are not inherently evil. So then, is there still a difference between it and the soul? And is one or the other more important?
                Galatians 5:16-18 presents Paul’s view on the subject, and consequently, God’s. However, this seems to contrast the Creation and Incarnation, almost agreeing with the Phaedo in some ways. Paul says, “16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”(KJV)
                This presents that it is the desires of the body that are opposed to the soul; not necessarily the skin and bones we use to move around. In some ways, Socrates discussion with Cebes touches on this principle. For example, Socrates says at one point, “When soul and body share the same place, nature teaches the one to serve and be subject, the other to rule and govern,” and this seems to be consistent with some Biblical teaching. If the flesh (or body) is allowed to rule, then the well-being of the soul will be neglected and it will become subservient to the desires of the flesh. Socrates says the only way to change this is to make the soul completely separate from the body. This also agrees in a way with what Paul says.
                Where do the differences come into play, then? I think it lies in the method of separating the body from the soul. Biblically, Paul says that we must deny the flesh and strive after the Spirit. Socrates also says this, but the soul he speaks of is that of the individual person, not God’s Spirit. In a way, he seems to deliver the clich├ęd mantra that we are to “be true to ourselves”. When Paul speaks of being led of the Spirit, he refers to the Holy Spirit, not out own personal “essence”.
If we were to rely upon our own thoughts and feelings to put aside the body’s desires, then we would probably end up trapped even further inside of our flesh. God’s Spirit is the only one that can be completely separated from bodily lusts. We must chase after Him if we are to truly put aside the body.

[photo source - http://belindacai.blogspot.com/2010/03/i-want-to-live-where-soul-meets-body.html -- Yes, it's a blog, so I really don't know where she got it in the first place... Hm. This is also an essay on Phaedo. I don't have time to read the whole thing, or I would... different views on this could be interesting.]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Ha! This feels very fitting for me right now, in reference to my own blogging. I can't say it's always true, though,  for there are several blogs I read that actually say many helpful things. Por ejemplo...

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
Nairam of Sherwood, OYANer Extraordinaire
The Sharpened Pen

and others. But, those were the URLs I knew off the top of my head. =P

I could blog about characters, writing, and all that, but they (^^) are already doing such a good job at it! Besides, I would probably start talking then refer you (the ominous, ever-present reader...right?) to one of their posts instead.

Yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses.

*cue VeggieTales "Busy, busy, dreadfully busy..."*

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Purging the Night

PURGING THE NIGHT

Can darkness, a lamp clutched in his hand
Masquerading as light, but destroying the land
Really be true? Really be right?
For he’s making us stumble, as thieves in the night.

Leaning out toward us, a smiling face
yet hiding his hands, for the blood that does lace
Back and forth on his palms - a frightening price
To pay for the time spent walking on ice.

The lies he does spin, the strangling threads,
Playing the spider, and leaving you dead.
Must escape from the strands, must sever the cords,
Hold fast, don’t give in, to his murdering sword.

Only one Light is true - the mimic is slain
When you turn from the lover, though he calls out your name.
He promises light, a sweeter version of life,
But you know he is lying, his heart full of strife.

The lies, the promises, the call to his side
Pulling us, drawing us, to his black mind to reside
In an abyss full of darkness - we can’t run on our own
For our souls are too weak to go it alone.

Calling and crying, to be free from this mask,
Preparing our hearts for the impossible task.
Impossible, yes, to our minds - not the Light’s,
Coming to answer our plea, an end now in sight.

Hope is now living, the rocks could cry out
Light rushes in with a trump and a shout.
Singing He comes, with conquering might
Probing, yet soothing, purging the night.

We joy in the Light, as he unchains us from sin
He sweeps us away from the tumultuous din
As His song fades to a hum, the battle is won
For the shadows are cleared by the light of the Sun

Though the Light frees us, we can’t leave it at that
To depart from His presence, it’s as if turning back
To the darkness we’ve fled, the pain we abhorred
Believing the righteous to be worse than the cords.

Must draw close to Him, must search out His heart
The journey’s not ended, we’re just at the start.
Some think salvation is all, there’s no need to impede
The habits formed while the Darkness pricked us to bleed.

If they continue in sin, so the Light comes around
To rescue again, that they might be found
Truly, who’s loosed from the bonds that once held?
Not they, for they cling to the chains of their Hell.

So throw off your shackles, and dance in the Light!
Enjoying the fragrance of precious, good right.
Sing in joy, for you’re ransomed, no more shame does hide
In the midst of your heart - just draw to His side. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Euthyphro Question

The only thing worse than arguing with Socrates might just be having to pretend you ARE Socrates, then proceeding to argue with yourself. "First I was like, huh? Then I was like, wha--? and then...i just got bored." (-Bolt) 

I wrote this essay as an assignment for the online history class I take (or, was taking...and it was such a good class...*weep*) and thought I might as well share it. It's an interesting topic, and I hope I've done it justice. :) 

~(@)~

2. What is the famous Euthyphro question, and how has it been used against Christianity? Explain it and then give a Christian reply to the objection. Imagine how Socrates might object to your Christian response and then answer this second objection.

The Euthyphro Question

In Plato’s book of dialogues, The Last Days of Socrates, Socrates asks a mindboggling question to his friend, Euthyphro. “Is the holy approved by the gods because it’s holy, or is it holy because it’s approved?” (Euthyphro dialogue, 9e)

Though Socrates asked the original question in reference to the pantheon of Ancient Greece, modern circles resurrect this question as a legitimate claim against the God of Christianity. They await an answer, expecting the Christians to be able to give one.  Yet, the dilemma gives only two possible solutions. Is something good because God loves it, or does God love it because it is good?

Both statements have assumptions or connotations that naturally follow. Because of these I, as a Christian, in some ways object to the question being asked in the first place. At least, I believe it could be worded in a better way.

Take the first part of the question - is the holy approved by God because it is holy? In examining the question, we find the hidden implication. If God approves of something because it is holy, this basically says that God has no part in goodness and that something above Him determines it. This would mean that God does not reign sovereign, above all and in control of all. It could even be said that God isn’t necessary for us, because even He looks up to a higher standard. Why not just go straight to the top?

The second option also puts us in an impossible position. To say that something is holy because God approves of it opens up the idea that the goodness is said to be good, “just because” God loves it. The response to this tends to be, “Well, couldn’t God change his mind? If he starts loving murder, would it then become holy or good?” It implies that goodness is subjective or random.  

Even with looking at both sides of the question, there seems to be no solution. We must either admit that God is not truly God, or that he can be fickle in character. Coming from a Biblical view of God and my Savior, Jesus Christ, I know that neither of these options can be true. So, is there an answer?

In some books or movies, there inevitably comes a time where the characters are forced into a dilemma. Do they take the shortcut through the woods and possibly get attacked by bears, or take the long way around and risk being late to warn the king? At least one of the characters automatically responds, “Is there a Plan C?” Though one may not be obvious, the characters resolve to choose Plan C and work as hard as they can to find that path instead - which usually ends up including a little of the bears and being late. However, they make it in the end, much better off than if they had just chosen A or B.

I shall attempt the same here in looking for “Plan C”, the tertium quid, the combination of or deviation from the two things presented. No doubt Socrates will have some questions for me. But to him I say, wait your turn. I get to talk in circles for a while.

Going back to the original question, I would like to ask, “What is the point of their argument?” My more cynical side suggests that perhaps they wish not to find out what is truly good, but to present the Christians with an “unanswerable” question. Yet, I wonder what Socrates was really thinking when he proposed the question to Euthyphro. Instead of “Is the holy approved by the gods because it’s holy, or is it holy because it’s approved?” I would like to simplify it and ask, out of Socratic curiosity, “What is good, and why is it good?”

I object to the original wording for it seems to suggest the God and goodness are two separate entities, and that there must be a reason or way for these to reconcile in such a state. As a Christian, I believe that goodness cannot be separate from God. He doesn’t choose which things are good - Heknows because He is good. Not just as a character trait (1 Chronicles 16:34), or because of what He does for us (John 3:16), but as the source of all goodness. Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Holiness can’t be defined or separated as something that is holy on its own, or that must be decided to be holy.

So, if Socrates was to ask me “Is something good because God loves it, or does God love it because it is good?” I would answer, “Neither option really fits, considering the implications. 1 Peter 4:6b says, ‘...they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.’  Man’s judgment and God’s judgment are two different things. We humans approve things by our opinions of good, but He knows what is good.  He doesn’t have to pick out the good versus the bad because anything good is already a part of Him (Psalm 18:30, Romans 12:2). Anything not in line with God’s character or will is sinful, and anything we think is good can only be truly good if it matches up with His nature.”
Socrates then sits back in his chair, nodding and stroking his beard. “Very well, then, MacKenzie,” he says. “In that case, if your God is goodness, then is He good because he chooses to be, or because he has no choice? If he has no choice, is there truly such a thing as goodness at all? And if he does choose it, could that mean that perhaps there really is an alternative source of goodness apart from God?”

After asking him to repeat the question about three more times, I give my answer.

“Socrates, you believe that the Form of the Good exceeds all things, even your gods, whereas I believe that God stands above all. Suggesting that God must choose to be good brings the argument back around to the original question of whether or not a form of good exists outside of God. ‘He is before all things,’ in Colossians 1:17 tells us that He existed even before our human concept of measurable good came about. Good is simply how God is defined, both in nature and how he shows Himself to us (1 John 3:16). When we do something “good”, according to His standards, we are being like Him.

“I would also like to bring up the entire passage in Colossians 1, surrounding the seventeenth verse:

“16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (Col 1:16-19 KJV)

“The “powers” referred to in verse 16 comes from the Greek word exousia, which, according to Strong’s Greek Lexicon, primarily means “power of a choice, liberty of doing as one pleases”. God created this. This doesn't mean He never had a choice or that He’s not sovereign - He just never needed to choose. It wasn’t an issue, and it never will be. Yet, when He created us, He needed to lay down rules and gave us, as humans and His creation, the will to choose whether or not to obey Him and live up to His good.

“With our limited human understanding we can only understand questions about God and His nature to a certain degree. We still see as though through a glass, darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), and we must study, learn, and pray if we are to ever gain a taste of God’s wisdom and goodness here on earth. Psalm 143:10 says, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (KJV)

“Socrates, apart from God, there can be no other explanation of what goodness is.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prologue of 'Shadows' End'

Here's the beginning of a story idea I've been toying with on and off. It will most likely end up as a prologue, maybe a flashback. Anyway, the kid, Roan, is about seven years old, maybe eight. If anyone's up to commenting, I have a few main questions, aside from just the general "does anything seem weird to you?" one:

From this beginning do you have a decent idea of where you think these people are and who they are? What are your impressions of these things?

What is your impression of Morika? Roan?

Did this create emotion in you? What emotions?

And, would you keep reading?

~(@)~


  Roan crouched down by the pile of brush in the corner of the hut and traced a finger along the baby’s cheek. “I’m sorry, Maia,” he whispered.
 “Come, boy.” A rough hand seized Roan’s arm and jerked him up, away from his sister. “We have to go, now.”
“No!” Roan wrenched away and dropped again by Maia’s makeshift bed. “Not unless she comes too.”
“I have told you already, she cannot,” the man spat in the rapid native language.
 “But you cannot leave her here alone!” Roan objected, crying back in the man’s tongue. He grabbed her little hand and she wound her fingers tightly around one of his.
 Don’t go, Roan, her eyes seemed to beg. I need you! He stared into her brown irises, nearly dominated by the black of her pupils. They gazed at him, wide, unblinking, and shining in the moonlight that streamed through the tiny window of the hut. He stroked her skin, shades browner than his own, stretched taut across the visible ridges of her bones from lack of food, dry and dehydrated from lack of water. He wouldn’t leave her...he couldn’t. She would die without him! 
The tall man bent over and grabbed Roan around the waist. He hauled the small boy up over his shoulder.
 “No!” Roan screeched. He thrashed and wriggled, kicking against his captor and beating his back with clenched fists. “No, no! Maia! Let me free!”
 The grip around his waist and legs tightened and the man pushed aside the reed mat that served as a door for the hut. The bright moon threw its light about, washing the tiny clearing in an unearthly glow.
Roan wailed, tears pouring down his cheeks, and continued to beat. “Please, let me go! I’ll stay with her, I don’t have to come with you! You can leave without me, I won’t follow, I’d stay here with her and not go anywhere, I promise. They wouldn’t find you! We’d be quiet. They wouldn’t track you! Please!” He ached to touch her, to hold her close and feel the curl of her soft black hair against his cheek, to hold her and let her know that she was safe.
 The man did not answer him.
As they drew further away from the opposite end of the clearing, nearing the jungle tree line, a soft cry rose from the hut. Whimpering at first, it rose in a growing crescendo, finally becoming a steady, mournful wail.
 The man swore in his language and began to run, jostling Roan about like a wild antelope being brought home from a kill.
 A kill. Dead. Roan felt dead. He fell silent, stopped kicking, knowing that there was nothing left he could do. He knew Morika would not give in. That he was too concerned about what lay ahead. That the only thing behind that mattered to him was when the baby would please stop her crying so there would be no sounds or hints for the wicked men to follow them by.

Friday, April 15, 2011

all in a name

So, I have a more article-like, thought-provoking post in the works, but it's just that -- in the works. So I figured I'd throw out another excerpt while I'm still working on that. A "filler" post....but not really, because I probably would have posted this sometime anyway.

This excerpt is also from A Name Worth Carrying. It takes place just a little while after the last excerpt I posted, actually. This is a moment that I hope sets up a big story issue, being Abby and her struggle with her name and it's realtion to her father.

My goal is emotion, inner conflict, and history. I'd love any thoughts you might have on this - Could you feel Abby's confusion? Shock? And the inner conflict she has at the beginning and end? Those are what I'm going for, but are they really there?

Enjoy :)
(and let me know if you do!)


~(@)~

stock photo from shutterstock.com

            My father is joy.
            My father is joy.
            The meaning pounds in my head.
            Why, Mom? Why did you give me such a name? Joy? My father? Ha. More like, my father is frightening me. My father is suspicious. My father is...not the man I once thought I knew.
            Joy. Sure. Right.
            I lie there {in bed} for hours, even after Katey has finally gone to bed, not able to sleep. My mind spins, reliving as many moments as I dare, all ever since the accident. Me, being awoken by the ringing of the phone early that morning. Stumbling in to the living room to see Dad sprawled on the couch, completely dressed, shoes and all, stoned from something. Not even the harsh tones of the phone would rouse him. They always did. Well, when he wasn't hungover. I picked up the phone, still bleary.
            "Hello?"
            "Hello, may I speak with James Garrett?"
            I turned to the couch and roll my eyes. "He's, uh, unavailable right now. Can I take a message?"
            "Who is this?"
            "I'm Abby. His daughter."
            "Oh, dear. Uh, are you sure he can't come to the phone?"
            I shook my head and my stomach started to flutter. "No, he really can't. Is something wrong? Who is this anyway?"
            "Ah...this is Officer Bryant from the city police department. And, well, I need to confirm a license plate number, along with...some other things. Eh, how old are you, sweetheart?"
            I was really scared now. "Fifteen. I, ah, I think I could remember the number," I had to stop and swallow. "If you read it to me?"
            The voice on the other end sighs. "I suppose. But, hon, I've some bad news."
            Something from the tone of his voice told me it was more than just a parking ticket or an arrested family member -- even if I didn't have any family close by. I cleared my throat. "Uh, okay. What is it?"
            "Well, let me make sure of the plate first. here, you ready?"
            "Sure."
            He started reading off a combination of letters and numbers, which I immediately recognize as my mother's license number.
            "Y-yeah," I stammered. "That's my mom's car."
            He sighed again. "I was afraid of that. Abby, right?"
            "Y-yes." I didn't dare say anything else.
            "Abby, I'm sorry, but we got a call a little while ago. Someone found your mother's car on a back country road. It had been driven into an old fencerow and smashed into a tree and a couple of fence posts. The car is totaled. And..."
            My stomach dropped and I sank down to my knees on the kitchen floor.
            "There was a woman inside, in the driver's seat. She had suffered some fatal injuries. What we assume to be her purse was on the passenger side. The driver's license identified the woman as Nicole Garrett."
            "What? No. No, are you sure?" I yelped. "No, Mom...she's here, in her bed, asleep. That can't be her." I jumped to my feet and pounded down the hall to my parents' room, still clutching the phone. My hand flew to the wall and the light flashed on. The bed was empty. "Mom!" I screeched, yanking the bathroom door open. She wasn't there either. I dropped to the floor by the bathtub, eyes burning and chest heaving. "No, no!" I pressed the phone to my ear again, forcing the words out, "She...she's not here. But that can't be her. Can't be!"
          "Please, Abby, calm down. That's why I'm calling. I need your father to come down to the station..."
          But I didn't hear anymore. The phone slipped from my hand, clattering to the floor. "Dad," I whispered. "Daddy!" I launched forward, on my hands and knees, scrambling to get to my feet. Flying, I nearly crashed into my father, still sprawled on the couch. I shook his shoulders. "Daddy, wake up! Where's Mom?" I had to keep shaking, then finally screaming, before he blinked open wearily. I could smell the liquor on his breath.
          "What are you talking about, Abigail?" he mumbled, struggling to sit up.
          It was all I could do to keep from slapping him. "Where is Mom?" I yelled again. "Some guy from the police department called and said she was in an accident. That she wrecked her car and got killed!"
          A look of terror crossed his face, then shock. "No," he muttered, pushing me away from him and stumbling off the couch. He slapped his hand to his forehead, moaning. "Ohh, my head...where's the phone?"
          I couldn't remember what I'd done with it. "I don't know," I said, realizing that tears were streaming down my face. "I...I don't know!"
          He'd pulled me out of school that week in late September, and I stayed at home with him for two weeks. He grew distant, barely talking to me and flinching every time something unexpected happened, whether it be me closing a cabinet or Lexie knocking on the door. He never let me out of the house without him during that time. And when he left to go to some sort of legal thing about the accident, he locked me in the house. That's when he put up the grate over my window as well.
          Joy. Yeah, right.
          I roll over on my stomach and scrunch the pillow up in my arms. I rest my chin on it, staring at the blank wood of the head board. My throat tickles. My eyes burn. I want to let it out. But, instead, I glare into the darkness and refuse to let the tears come.
~ Chapter 3, A Name Worth Carrying
©2011 MacKenzie Pauline

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hello, Sunshine...

...It's been too long since I
felt your beautiful warmth upon my face. :)
(Barlow Girl)

Ah, loveliness. It stormed like crazy yesterday, and I loved it.  Now, early this morning I sit here at my desk before the window with sun streaming in through the blinds, covering me in shadowy stripes, and I love it, too. Hopefully today will be beautiful. And if it's not...oh well. I have my daffodil in its glass of water also sitting before me. And that will be my sunshine for today.



I've always loved daffodils. I see them as a bright yellow sunbeam shining through the midst of the fickleness of spring weather. Whether it's dark and storming or bright and clear outside, they're still there, dancing in the breeze. A sign that more is coming, that beauty is on its way. Sunshine in the storm.

Not to mention that the fragrance is so powerful...you can smell the daffodil on my desk as soon as you walk into my room. The character of it just rubs off in so many ways. 

I want to be like a daffodil. A joyful sunbeam, spreading the sweet fragrance of God's love wherever I am, and in whatever circumstances. Even in the midst of a storm.  

~(@)~

"The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the [turtledove] is heard in our land."
Song of Solomon 2:12