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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Country Music Philosophy for Living

“The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore,

as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality.” The Screwtape Letters, Letter XIII

I have been listening to a lot of country music lately. I’ve always liked it but I am now becoming a fan. I like the stories in the songs. They are often simple much like America used to be. It doesn’t try to be poetic like some pop music which in the end makes no sense. A recent song has taught me a bit of philosophy. A song from Billy Currington People Are Crazy tells a story of how two men, presumably Billy and someone else, are in a bar just talking about life and drinking beer. The man doing the talking is older, a Veteran of two wars, who has had his shares of difficulties in life. Unbeknown to the listener, the Veteran is a millionaire. He eventually dies but not before leaving him all of his wealth. The chorus of the song summarized the Veteran’s life philosophy: “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.” Simple, yet he articulated his view of God, himself and people. Many people have a hard time explaining their beliefs but here we have a country song that gives as much as we may need to know to live a simple, good, life. First, his view of God. He is Great! He didn’t complain about him for all the troubles He had let him go through. He’s just Great. Second, his view of self. He likes beer. For some this is anathema. Beer cannot be good. Or some may say he is just a Hedonist, someone who only seeks pleasure. But remember, God is great. He enjoys the simple things. Interestingly enough I have been listening to the dramatized version of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and letter 13 deals with the issue of pleasure. Screwtape, the experienced demon advises his nephew to not let his patient enjoy small pleasures such as walking, drinking cocoa, things that “have nothing of virtue in them; but there is sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them that I distrust.” He distrusts them because they deal with reality and this can lead him in the direction of God. The goal of demons, according to Screwtape is to keep people detached from reality. The song also articulates a view of mankind: people are crazy. In Theology we would say that man is depraved, meaning that he is capable of much evil. And of course, craziness in the colloquial expression has this sense. We live in a crazy world. That’s why we need God, we need to understand who He is, who we are and the way people are. Simple life philosophy for living.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why I Love Children

“The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop”

Mark Twain

Ever since I was young I have found that I enjoy been around children. Children are special to me for many reasons. I love children's innocence. It is not my intention here to discuss wether human nature is intrinsically predisposed for evil or a tabula rasa as John Locke described in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. What I refer to here is children's ability to perceive the world without preconceived notions. Their eyes see everything with "new" eyes. They want to know, they want to learn. They like to discover things, things that we as adults take for granted. Children also have a forgiving heart. So many times I have seen how children after a moment of discord with an adult or another child, will forget everything and start over as if nothing happened. Not so, with us adults. We may forgive but we seldom forget. Children also have faith. I remember the stories I told 5th graders at dinner time at a camp. They were ridiculous stories about pink elephants, yet they heard them and even believed them. If it sounds convincing, they believe. It is no wonder that Jesus used children as an example of the type of people that would enter Heaven. He saw their faith. That's not so with us. We doubt first, believe second but only if we are factually convinced. Children love. They don't establish conditions for loving, they just do. Their affection is not guided by prejudice, socioeconomic conditions or color of skin. How different it is with us.

Ten years ago, I wrote a poem which encapsulates why I love children.

Through They Eyes of A Child

I wish I could see life thru the eyes of a child.

To them life is so simple and mild.

Play and game is what matters and makes time so worth while.

How untrue this is for me,

So many pressures and preoccupations that make myself so wild.

They don't worry about tomorrow,

The future or even today,

It's the moment they seize that makes like so ok.

They sing, they laugh, they pretend.

Life is not serious to them.

How easy it is for them to believe what they are told.

Unlike adults who question, doubt, and reason so bold.

What can they fear? They are happy, satisfied and assured.

But we have so many things to make us insecure.

So if we plan our life to endure.

Let us learn to be pure.

Through the eyes of a child.